A laboratory incubation study with clover grass pasture soils of seven different ages (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 16 production years) was carried out to determine initial soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) stocks and potentials for greenhouse gas emissions (N2O and CO2). Compared with the soil from the recently established pasture, an increase of total soil C and N was observed along with pasture age. Greenhouse gas emissions were low and not significantly different among the soils from younger pastures (0-5 years), but especially N2O emissions increased markedly in the soil from 16-year-old grass-clover. Low emissions might mainly be due to an early C limitation occurring in the soils from younger pastures, which was also corroborated by decreasing levels of cold water-extractable C and early shifts within the microbial community. However, higher emissions from the old pasture soil were offset by its increase in total soil C. A longer ley phase without soil disturbance may therefore be beneficial in terms of overall C sequestration in systems with temporary grass-clover swards.