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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Atmospheric Pollutants and Trace Gases

Soil Nitrous Oxide Emissions after Deposition of Dairy Cow Excreta in Eastern Canada


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 43 No. 3, p. 829-841
    Received: Nov 27, 2013
    Published: June 24, 2014

    * Corresponding author(s): philippe.rochette@agr.gc.ca
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  1. Philippe Rochette *a,
  2. Martin H. Chantignya,
  3. Noura Ziadia,
  4. Denis A. Angersa,
  5. Gilles Bélangera,
  6. Édith Charbonneaub,
  7. Doris Pellerinb,
  8. Chang Liangc and
  9. Normand Bertranda
  1. a Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Soils and Crops Research and Development Centre, 2560 Hochelaga Blvd, Québec, G1V 2J3
    b Dep. of Animal Sciences, 2425 rue de l’Agriculture, Laval Univ., Québec, G1V 0A6
    c Environment Canada, 9th floor, 200 Sacré-Coeur, Gatineau, K1A 0H3


Urine and dung deposited by grazing dairy cows are a major source of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to stratospheric ozone depletion. In this study, we quantified the emissions of N2O after deposition of dairy cow excreta onto two grassland sites with contrasting soil types in eastern Canada. Our objectives were to determine the impact of excreta type, urine-N rate, time of the year, and soil type on annual N2O emissions. Emissions were monitored on sandy loam and clay soils after spring, summer, and fall urine (5 and 10 g N patch−1) and dung (1.75 kg fresh weight dung−1) applications to perennial grasses in two successive years. The mean N2O emission factor (EF) for urine was 1.09% of applied N in the clay soil and 0.31% in the sandy loam soil, estimates much smaller than the default Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) default value for total excreta N (2%). Despite variations in urine composition and in climatic conditions, these soil-specific EFs were similar for the two urine-N application rates. The time of the year when urine was applied had no impact on emissions from the sandy loam soil, but greater EFs were observed after summer (1.59%) than spring (1.14%) and fall (0.55%) applications in the clay soil. Dung deposition impact on N2O emission was smaller than that of urine, with a mean EF of 0.15% in the sandy loam soil and 0.08% in the clay soil. Our results suggest (i) that the IPCC default EF overestimates N2O emissions from grazing cattle excreta in eastern Canada by a factor of 4.3 and (ii) that a region-specific inventory methodology should account for soil type and should use specific EFs for urine and dung.

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