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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Special Submissions

Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Corn–Soybean Systems in the Midwest


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 35 No. 4, p. 1496-1506
    Received: May 12, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): parkin@nstl.gov
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  1. Timothy B. Parkin * and
  2. Thomas C. Kaspar
  1. USDA-ARS, National Soil Tilth Laboratory, 2150 Pammel Drive, Ames, IA 50011


Soil N2O emissions from three corn (Zea mays L.)–soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] systems in central Iowa were measured from the spring of 2003 through February 2005. The three managements systems evaluated were full-width tillage (fall chisel plow, spring disk), no-till, and no-till with a rye (Secale cereale L. ‘Rymin’) winter cover crop. Four replicate plots of each treatment were established within each crop of the rotation and both crops were present in each of the two growing seasons. Nitrous oxide fluxes were measured weekly during the periods of April through October, biweekly during March and November, and monthly in December, January, and February. Two polyvinyl chloride rings (30-cm diameter) were installed in each plot (in and between plant rows) and were used to support soil chambers during the gas flux measurements. Flux measurements were performed by placing vented chambers on the rings and collecting gas samples 0, 15, 30, and 45 min following chamber deployment. Nitrous oxide fluxes were computed from the change in N2O concentration with time, after accounting for diffusional constraints. We observed no significant tillage or cover crop effects on N2O flux in either year. In 2003 mean N2O fluxes were 2.7, 2.2, and 2.3 kg N2O-N ha−1 yr−1 from the soybean plots under chisel plow, no-till, and no-till + cover crop, respectively. Emissions from the chisel plow, no-till, and no-till + cover crop plots planted to corn averaged 10.2, 7.9, and 7.6 kg N2O-N ha−1 yr−1, respectively. In 2004 fluxes from both crops were higher than in 2003, but fluxes did not differ among the management systems. Fluxes from the corn plots were significantly higher than from the soybean plots in both years. Comparison of our results with estimates calculated using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change default emission factor of 0.0125 indicate that the estimated fluxes underestimate measured emissions by a factor of 3 at our sites.

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