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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 27 No. 3, p. 698-703
    Received: July 10, 1997

    * Corresponding author(s): afm@nrs.mcgill.ca
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Nitrous Oxide Emission in Three Years as Affected by Tillage, Corn-Soybean-Alfalfa Rotations, and Nitrogen Fertilization

  1. A. F. MacKenzie *,
  2. M. X. Fan and
  3. F. Cadrin
  1. Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Macdonald Campus of McGill University. 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Ste Anne de Bellevue, QC Canada. H9X 3V9.



Nitrous oxide (N2O) produced from agricultural activities must be determined if management procedures to reduce emissions are to be established. From 1994 to 1996, N2O emissions were determined using a closed chamber technique. Continuous corn (Zea mays L.) at four N rates of 0, 170, 285, and 400 kg of N ha−1 was used on a Ste. Rosalie heavy clay (a very-fine-silty, mixed, nonacid, frigid Typic Humaquept) and a Chicot sandy loam (a fine-loamy, frigid, Typic Hapludalf). On two additional sites, a Ste. Rosalie clay and an Ormstown silty clay loam (a fine-silty, mixed, nonacid, frigid Humaquept) no-till (NT) and conventional tillage (CT); monocultural corn (CCC), monocultural soybean (Glycine max L.) (SSS); corn-soybean (SSC, CCS); and soybean-corn-alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) phased rotations (SAC, CSA, and ACS) were used. Nitrogen rates of 0, 90, and 180 kg of N ha−1 for corn and 0, 20, and 40 kg of N ha−1 for SSS were used. Rates of N2O emission were measured from April to November in 1994 and 1995, and from mid-March to mid-November in 1996. Maximum N2O emissions reached from 120 to 450 ng of N m−2 s−1 at the Ormstown site to 50 to 240 ng of N m−2 s−1 at the Ste. Rosalie soil. Generally, N2O emissions were higher in the NT systems, with corn, and increased linearly with increasing N rates, and amounted to 1.0 to 1.6% of fertilizer N applied. The N2O emission rates were significantly related to soil denitrification rates, water-filled pore space, and soil NH4 and NO3 concentrations. A corn system using conventional tillage, legumes in rotation, and reduced N fertilizer would decrease N2O emission from agricultural fields.

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