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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Atmospheric Pollutants and Trace Gases

Nitrous Oxide and Ammonia Fluxes in a Soybean Field Irrigated with Swine Effluent


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 2, p. 524-532
    Received: Feb 2, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): rsharpe@arches.uga.edu
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  1. R. R. Sharpe * and
  2. L. A. Harper
  1. Southern Piedmont Conservation Research Center, USDA-ARS, 1420 Experiment Station Road, Watkinsville, GA 30677


In the United States, swine (Sus scrofa) operations produce more than 14 Tg of manure each year. About 30% of this manure is stored in anaerobic lagoons before application to land. While land application of manure supplies nutrients for crop production, it may lead to gaseous emissions of ammonia (NH3) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Our objectives were to quantify gaseous fluxes of NH3 and N2O from effluent applications under field conditions. Three applications of swine effluent were applied to soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr. ‘Brim’] and gaseous fluxes were determined from gas concentration profiles and the flux-gradient gas transport technique. About 12% of ammonium (NH4–N) in the effluent was lost through drift or secondary volatilization of NH3 during irrigation. An additional 23% was volatilized within 48 h of application. Under conditions of low windspeed and with the wind blowing from the lagoon to the field, atmospheric concentrations of NH3 increased and the crop absorbed NH3 at the rate of 1.2 kg NH3 ha−1 d−1, which was 22 to 33% of the NH3 emitted from the lagoon during these periods. Nitrous oxide emissions were low before effluent applications (0.016 g N2O–N ha−1 d−1) and increased to 25 to 38 g N2O–N ha−1 d−1 after irrigation. Total N2O emissions during the measurement period were 4.1 kg N2O–N ha−1, which was about 1.5% of total N applied. The large losses of NH3 and N2O illustrate the difficulty of basing effluent irrigation schedules on N concentrations and that NH3 emissions can significantly contribute to N enrichment of the environment.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:524–532.