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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Low-Disturbance Manure Incorporation Effects on Ammonia and Nitrate Loss


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 41 No. 3, p. 928-937
    Received: Sept 9, 2011

    * Corresponding author(s): Curtis.Dell@ars.usda.gov
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  1. Curtis J. Dell *a,
  2. Peter J.A. Kleinmana,
  3. John P. Schmidta and
  4. Douglas B. Beegleb
  1. a USDA–ARS, Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, University Park, PA 16802
    b Pennsylvania State Univ., Dep. Crop and Soil Sciences, University Park, PA 16802. Assigned to Associate Editor Douglas Smith


Low-disturbance manure application methods can provide the benefits of manure incorporation, including reducing ammonia (NH3) emissions, in production systems where tillage is not possible. However, incorporation can exacerbate nitrate (NO3) leaching. We sought to assess the trade-offs in NH3 and NO3 losses caused by alternative manure application methods. Dairy slurry (2006–2007) and liquid swine manure (2008–2009) were applied to no-till corn by (i) shallow (<10 cm) disk injection, (ii) surface banding with soil aeration, (iii) broadcasting, and (iv) broadcasting with tillage incorporation. Ammonia emissions were monitored for 72 h after application using ventilated chambers and passive diffusion samplers, and NO3 leaching to 80 cm was monitored with buried column lysimeters. The greatest NH3 emissions occurred with broadcasting (35–63 kg NH3–N ha−1), and the lowest emissions were from unamended soil (<1 kg NH3–N ha−1). Injection decreased NH3–N emissions by 91 to 99% compared with broadcasting and resulted in lower emissions than tillage incorporation 1 h after broadcasting. Ammonia-nitrogen emissions from banding manure with aeration were inconsistent between years, averaging 0 to 71% that of broadcasting. Annual NO3 leaching losses were small (<25 kg NO3–N ha−1) and similar between treatments, except for the first winter when NO3 leaching was fivefold greater with injection. Because NO3 leaching with injection was substantially lower over subsequent seasons, we hypothesize that the elevated losses during the first winter were through preferential flow paths inadvertently created during lysimeter installation. Overall, shallow disk injection yielded the lowest NH3 emissions without consistently increasing NO3 leaching, whereas manure banding with soil aeration conserved inconsistent amounts of N.

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