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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Atmospheric Pollutants and Trace Gases

Nitrogen Oxide and Methane Emissions under Varying Tillage and Fertilizer Management


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 34 No. 5, p. 1467-1477
    Received: Jan 19, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): venterea@umn.edu
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  1. Rodney T. Venterea *a,
  2. Martin Burgerab and
  3. Kurt A. Spokascd
  1. a USDA-ARS, Soil and Water Management Unit, 1991 Upper Buford Circle, St. Paul, MN 55108
    b Department of Plant Sciences, One Shields Avenue, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
    c Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, 1991 Upper Buford Circle, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108
    d Current address: USDA-ARS, North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory, 803 Iowa Avenue, Morris, MN 56267


Comprehensive assessment of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) budget of reduced tillage agricultural systems must consider emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4), each of which have higher global warming potentials than carbon dioxide (CO2). Tillage intensity may also impact nitric oxide (NO) emissions, which can have various environmental and agronomic impacts. In 2003 and 2004, we used chambers to measure N2O, CH4, and NO fluxes from plots that had been managed under differing tillage intensity since 1991. The effect of tillage on non-CO2 GHG emissions varied, in both magnitude and direction, depending on fertilizer practices. Emissions of N2O following broadcast urea (BU) application were higher under no till (NT) and conservation tillage (CsT) compared to conventional tillage (CT). In contrast, following anhydrous ammonia (AA) injection, N2O emissions were higher under CT and CsT compared to NT. Emissions following surface urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) application did not vary with tillage. Total growing season non-CO2 GHG emissions were equivalent to CO2 emissions of 0.15 to 1.9 Mg CO2 ha−1 yr−1 or 0.04 to 0.53 Mg soil-C ha−1 yr−1 Emissions of N2O from AA-amended plots were two to four times greater than UAN- and BU-amended plots. Total NO + N2O losses in the UAN treatment were approximately 50% lower than AA and BU. This study demonstrates that N2O emissions can represent a substantial component of the total GHG budget of reduced tillage systems, and that interactions between fertilizer and tillage practices can be important in controlling non-CO2 GHG emissions.

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Copyright © 2005. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyASA, CSSA, SSSA