Modelling uncertainty for nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions based on a Swedish field experiment with organic crop rotation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


High uncertainties are common in detailed quantification of the N budget of agricultural cropping systems. The process-based CoupModel, integrated with the parameter calibration method known as Generalized likelihood uncertainty estimation (GLUE), was used here to define parameter values and estimate an N budget based on experimental data from an organic farming experiment in south-west Sweden. Data on nitrate (NO(3)(-)) leaching and nitrous oxide (N(2)O) emissions were used as a basis for quantifying N budget pools. A complete N budget with uncertainties associated with the different components of the N cycle compartments for two different fields (B2 and B4) is presented. Simulated N(2)O emissions contributed 1-2% of total N output, which corresponded to 7% and 8.7% of total N leaching for B2 and B4, respectively. Measured N(2)O emissions contributed 3.5% and 10.3% of total N leaching from B2 and B4, respectively. Simulated N inputs (deposition, plant N fixation and fertilisation) and outputs (emissions, leaching and harvest) showed a relatively small range of uncertainty, while the differences in N storage in the soil exhibited a larger range of uncertainty. One-fifth of the GLUE-calibrated parameters had a significant impact on simulated NO(3)(-) leaching and/or N(2)O emissions data. Emissions of N(2)O were strongly associated with the nitrification process. The high degree of equifinality indicated that a simpler model could be calibrated to the same field data. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Josefine Nylinder
  • Maria Stenberg
  • Per-Erik Jansson
  • Åsa Kasimir Klemedtsson
  • Per Weslien
  • Leif Klemedtsson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


  • Agriculture, N budget, N(2) fixation, soil, CoupModel, Calibration, Uncertainty estimations
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-183
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
Issue number02-jan
StatePublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes