Dairy slurry application method impacts ammonia emission and nitrate in no-till corn silage

J Environ Qual. Mar-Apr 2011;40(2):383-92. doi: 10.2134/jeq2010.0082.


Reducing ammonia (NH3) emissions through slurry incorporation or other soil management techniques may increase nitrate (NO3) leaching, so quantifying potential losses from these alternative pathways is essential to improving slurry N management. Slurry N losses, as NH3 or NO3 were evaluated over 4 yr in south-central Wisconsin. Slurry (i.e., dairy cow [Bos taurus] manure from a storage pit) was applied each spring at a single rate (-75 m3 ha(-1)) in one of three ways: surface broadcast (SURF), surface broadcast followed by partial incorporation using an aerator implement (AER-INC), and injection (INJ). Ammonia emissions were measured during the 120 h following slurry application using chambers, and NO3 leaching was monitored in drainage lysimeters. Yield and N3 uptake of oat (Avena sativa L.), corn (Zea mays L.), and winter rye (Secale cereale L.) were measured each year, and at trial's end soils were sampled in 15- to 30-cm increments to 90-cm depth. There were significant tradeoffs in slurry N loss among pathways: annual mean NH3-N emission across all treatments was 5.3, 38.3, 12.4, and 21.8 kg ha(-1) and annual mean NO3-N leaching across all treatments was 24.1, 0.9, 16.9, and 7.3 kg ha' during Years 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Slurry N loss amounted to 27.1% of applied N from the SURF treatment (20.5% as NH3-N and 6.6% as NO,-N), 23.3% from AER-INC (12.0% as NH3-N and 11.3% as NO3-N), and 9.19% from INJ (4.4% as NH3-N and 4.7% as NO3-N). Although slurry incorporation decreased slurry N loss, the conserved slurry N did not significantly impact crop yield, crop N uptake or soil properties at trial's end.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Ammonia / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Manure*
  • Nitrates / metabolism*
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Silage*
  • Soil
  • Zea mays / chemistry
  • Zea mays / metabolism*


  • Manure
  • Nitrates
  • Soil
  • Ammonia
  • Nitrogen