Home Farm Equipment Fine-tuning manure can reduce nitrous oxide

Fine-tuning manure can reduce nitrous oxide

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There’s been so much made up to now 12 months about paying farmers to retailer carbon and set up “carbon smart” practices on the farm.

However nitrous oxide, of which manure is a supply, is 300 instances extra highly effective than carbon dioxide and stays within the environment for greater than 100 years, says Heather Karsten, affiliate professor of crop manufacturing and ecology at Penn State.

There isn’t a easy reply to addressing the quantity of manure and, in flip, nitrous oxide that comes from farms, however analysis by Karsten and others is shedding mild on a doable resolution: making use of manure when the crop actually wants it.

The research that Karsten led measured nitrous oxide emissions from the corn phases of two crop rotations — a corn-soybean rotation and a dairy forage rotation — underneath three totally different administration techniques. The outcomes provide clues about how dairy farmers may be capable of higher time the quantity of nitrogen fertilizer they apply to corn, saving cash and contributing much less to local weather change.

“This research suggests that all nitrogen inputs — manure, legumes and fertilizer — contribute to nitrous oxide emissions,” Karsten says. “But farmers could reduce nitrous oxide emissions if they could apply manure after the crop is planted, closer to when the corn begins to take up nitrogen.”

Within the corn-soybean rotation, Karsten’s workforce in contrast nitrous oxide emissions from broadcast dairy manure, shallow-disk manure injection and the appliance of liquid urea ammonium nitrate. 

Manure was utilized earlier than corn was planted, whereas the liquid urea was utilized in response to really useful practices — when the corn was rising and taking over nitrogen.

“We sampled N20 [nitrous oxide] emissions by taking gas samples from vented chambers that remained on the soil surface during the study,” Karsten writes in an e-mail. “We sampled twice a week and shortly after rain events to measure N20 emissions when they tend to increase due to microbial denitrification because the soil becomes anaerobic due to water saturation. Three gas samples were collected over 30 minutes to measure the rate of N20 emissions at each time point. Then, we analyzed the samples with a gas chromatograph.”

The higher timing of nitrogen software led to much less whole nitrogen utilized. Injecting manure elevated nitrous oxide emissions in comparison with the printed remedy in a single 12 months of the research, exhibiting that the environmental and nitrogen conservation advantages of injection needs to be weighed towards the extra emissions when deciding on it, Karsten says.

“That is primarily as a result of injecting manure conserves extra manure nitrogen, particularly ammonium nitrogen, that is in any other case misplaced to the environment as ammonia if manure is utilized to the soil floor and never integrated as in a no-till system,” she writes. “Additionally, the manure was utilized previous to corn planting, and a big amount of it was out there to be misplaced as nitrous oxide earlier than corn was rising and taking over N.”

Heather Karsten

LEAD RESEARCHER: Maria Ponce de Leon, a former graduate pupil in plant science at Penn State, carries a nitrous oxide emissions chamber right into a cornfield on the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Analysis Heart.

The workforce additionally in contrast nitrous oxide emissions from corn silage or grain in a no-till, six-year dairy forage rotation the place corn adopted a two-year, blended alfalfa and orchardgrass forage crop and a crimson clover cowl crop.

Manure additionally was broadcast earlier than corn planting, and nitrous oxide emissions have been in comparison with the rotation, during which corn was planted after soybeans with broadcast manure. The nitrous oxide emissions didn’t differ among the many three prior legume therapies.

Karsten says that she and the opposite researchers solely examined sidedressing utilizing the inorganic fertilizer.

“We only sidedressed inorganic fertilizer because we don’t have the equipment yet to sidedress manure,” she writes. “However once we sidedressed important portions of inorganic N fertilizer within the inorganic fertilizer remedy and the printed manure remedy [that the in-season soil PSNT indicated was needed in the broadcast manure treatment], the N20 emissions from these therapies that utilized fertilizer N when the corn was rising and taking over N have been nonetheless decrease.

“Since we don’t have the equipment yet to sidedress manure, in a follow-up study we used a crop and soil computer simulation model to simulate sidedressing manure, which allowed us to reduce the total N rate. Those simulations over 25 years of central Pennsylvania weather indicated that better synchronizing manure application with corn uptake would significantly reduce N20 emissions.”

In each experiments, nitrous oxide emissions peaked just a few weeks after manure was utilized and for a brief interval after fertilizer was utilized. Since nitrous oxide emissions are influenced by elements that affect microbial processes, the researchers examined what environmental and nitrogen-availability elements have been most predictive of nitrous oxide emissions.

Growing temperatures spurring corn development and elements that affect soil nitrogen availability have been vital elements in each comparisons, in response to the research.

Nitrogen availability from natural inputs akin to manure and legume cowl crops can contribute to nitrous oxide emissions from corn, says lead researcher Maria Ponce de Leon, former graduate pupil in Karsten’s analysis group and now a doctoral candidate on the College of California, Davis. Figuring out the right way to time natural nitrogen with corn uptake represents a possibility, she says, to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from dairy techniques.

However Karsten provides that the overall quantity of nitrogen misplaced as nitrous oxide in manure continues to be a comparatively small quantity and, usually, is relative to how a lot is misplaced from the soil floor as ammonia or leaching.

“For instance, in our study, we measured N20 losses from mid-April to early September, and although some N20 was also likely lost during the colder periods of the year, the percentage of total N applied lost as N20 relative to the total N applied we found was less than 2%. But because N20 is such a potent greenhouse gas, its impact is significant,” she writes in an e-mail. “Further, best management practices such as the 4Rs that help farmers capture more fertilizer and manure N can also reduce N20 emissions, providing an opportunity for farmers to reduce N costs and protect the environment.”

The research was just lately revealed in Nutrient Biking in Agroecosystems.

Ohio State College has carried out analysis on changing industrial sidedress nitrogen with liquid manure in emerged corn.

Right here’s a video that describes the work:

 

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