Low-disturbance manure incorporation effects on ammonia and nitrate loss

Curtis J. Dell, Peter J.A. Kleinman, John P. Schmidt, Douglas B. Beegle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


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-off s 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 aft er application using ventilated chambers and passive diff usion 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 aft er 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)928-937
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Low-disturbance manure incorporation effects on ammonia and nitrate loss'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this