Increased nitrogen enrichment and shifted patterns in the world's grassland: 1860–2016

Xu, Rongting; Tian, Hanqin; Pan, Shufen; Dangal, Shree R.S.; Chen, Jian; Chang, Jinfeng; Lu, Yonglong; Skiba, Ute Maria ORCID:; Tubiello, Francesco N.; Zhang, Bowen. 2019 Increased nitrogen enrichment and shifted patterns in the world's grassland: 1860–2016. Earth System Science Data, 11 (1). 175-187.

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Production and application to soils of manure excreta from livestock farming significantly perturb the global nutrient balance and result in significant greenhouse gas emissions that warm the earth's climate. Despite much attention paid to synthetic nitrogen (N) fertilizer and manure N applications to croplands, spatially explicit, continuous time-series datasets of manure and fertilizer N inputs on pastures and rangelands are lacking. We developed three global gridded datasets at a resolution of 0.5∘ × 0.5∘ for the period 1860–2016 (i.e., annual manure N deposition (by grazing animals) rate, synthetic N fertilizer and N manure application rates), by combining annual and 5 arcmin spatial data on pastures and rangelands with country-level statistics on livestock manure, mineral and chemical fertilizers, and land use information for cropland and permanent meadows and pastures. Based on the new data products, we estimated that total N inputs, the sum of manure N deposition, manure N application and fertilizer N application to pastures and rangelands, increased globally from 15 to 101 Tg N yr−1 during 1860–2016. In particular during the period 2000–2016, livestock manure N deposition accounted for 83 % of the total N inputs, whereas manure and fertilizer N application accounted 9 % and 8 %, respectively. At the regional scale, hotspots of manure N deposition remained largely similar during the period 1860–2016 (i.e., southern Asia, Africa and South America); however, hotspots of manure and fertilizer N application shifted from Europe to southern Asia in the early 21st century. The new three global datasets contribute to the filling of the previous data gaps of global and regional N inputs in pastures and rangelands, improving the abilities of ecosystem and earth system models to investigate the global impacts of N enrichment due to agriculture, in terms of associated greenhouse gas emissions and environmental sustainability issues. Datasets are available at

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Atmospheric Chemistry and Effects (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1866-3508
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 07 Mar 2019 17:43 +0 (UTC)

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