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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 1, p. 23-30
    Received: May 26, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): Phillips@mandan.ars.usda.gov
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Organic Agriculture and Nitrous Oxide Emissions at Sub-Zero Soil Temperatures

  1. Rebecca L. Phillips *
  1. USDA-ARS, Northern Great Plains Research Lab., Box 459, Mandan, ND 58554


In the Red River Valley of the upper midwestern United States, soil temperatures often remain below freezing during winter and N2O emissions from frozen cropland soils is assumed to be negligible. This study was conducted to determine the strength of N2O emissions and denitrification when soil temperatures were below zero for a manure-amended, certified organic field (T2O) compared with an unamended, conventionally managed field (T2C). Before manure application, both fields were similar with respect to autotrophic and heterotrophic N2O production and N2O flux at the soil surface (0.15 ± 0.05 mg N2O–N m−2 d−1 for T2O and 0.12 ± 0.06 mg N2O–N m−2 d−1 for T2C). After application of pelletized, dehydrated manure, average daily flux (based on time-integrated fluxes from 20 November to 8 April), was 1.19 ± 0.34 mg N2O–N m−2 d−1 for T2O and 0.47 ± 0.37 mg N2O–N m−2 d−1 for T2C. Denitrification for intact cores measured in the laboratory at −2.5°C was greater for organically managed soils, although only marginally significant (p < 0.1). Cumulative emissions for all winter measurements (from 16 November to 8 April) averaged 1.63 kg N2O–N ha−1 for T2O and 0.64 kg N2O–N ha−1 for T2C. Biological N2O production was evident at sub-zero soil temperatures, with winter emissions exceeding those measured in late summer. Late autumn manure application enhanced cumulative N2O–N emissions by 0.9 kg ha−1

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