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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Nitrogen Source Effects on Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Irrigated and Rainfed Production Systems
2010 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The fertilizer industry and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service's (USDA-ARS) GRACEnet project need scientifically sound N2O emissions data from field research plots treated with various N sources across the U.S. The USDA-ARS GRACEnet cross location project has (1) a research network in place; (2) established cross location protocols for greenhouse gas sampling; (3) the facilities and personnel; and (4) the initial instrumentation required to expand its collection of this type of data. GRACEnet objective 2 includes the collection of CO2, N2O and CH4 greenhouse gas data, in addition to soil carbon sequestration.

This research project will evaluate the effects of controlled release and stabilized nitrogen sources on nitrous oxide emissions in rainfed and irrigated cropping systems at several ARS research locations compared with the commonly used urea and urea-ammonium nitrate fertilizer sources.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Nitrogen source studies will be conducted at five ARS locations (Fort Collins, CO; Ames, IA; St. Paul, MN; Pullman, WA; and Auburn, AL) to collect greenhouse gas emissions data from corn, cotton, wheat, and potato cropping systems (varies with location). Several N fertilizer sources (a controlled release polymer-coated urea (ESN); a stabilized urea source, SuperU or UAN treated with AgrotainPlus; UAN and/or Urea as conventional sources) will be applied as a minimum to a cropping system at each location. Except for the irrigated Fort Collins site and one irrigated site at St. Paul, all sites are rainfed cropping systems, with either conventional tillage or no-tillage management practices, or both. Nitrogen rates at each location will include at least a near optimal N rate (for greenhouse gas data collection) for the crop and cropping system. The N sources will be applied using normal farming practices at each location. Nitrous oxide emissions (and possibly CO2 and CH4 emissions) from each N source treatment and a check (zero fertilizer N applied) treatment will be monitored several times each week during the growing season. Methods used for greenhouse gas measurements will follow those established for the ARS GRACEnet program. Crop yield data, needed soil water and temperature data, and other necessary data needed to interpret the greenhouse gas emissions results will be collected. A scientifically sound experimental design with a minimum of 3 replications will be used at each location.

5402-11000-008-00L: GRACEnet: An Assessment of Soil Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation by Agricultural Management

Cross Location Participants listed under 5402-11000-008-00L/411610:

3625-11000-004-00D/409178: Trace Gas Exchanges in Midwest Cropping Systems Dr. Jerry Hatfield: National Soil Tilth Research Laboratory (Ames, Iowa)

3640-12000-007-00D/410684: Farming Practices for the Northern Corn Belt to Protect Soil Resources, Support Biofuel Production and Reduce Global Warming Potential Dr. Rod Venterea: Soil and Water Management Research (St. Paul, MN)

5348-11000-005-00D/414427: Quantifying and Predicting Emission of PM10 and Greenhouse Gases from Agricultural Soils Dr. Jeff Smith: Land Management and Water Conservation Research (Pullman, WA)

5402-12130-008-00D/410759: Improving Soil and Nutrient Management Systems for Sustained Productivity and Environmental Quality Dr. Ardell Halvorson: Soil, Plant, Nutrient Research (Fort Collins, CO)

6420-12610-003-00D/410823: Conservation Systems Research for Improving Environmental Quality and Producer Profitability Dr. Allen Torbert: Soil Dynamics Research (Auburn, AL)


3.Progress Report

Limited information is available on the effects of nitrogen fertilizer sources on greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide, CO2; nitrous oxide, N2O) emissions from rainfed cropping systems. Little information is available on how these controlled release and stabilized N fertilizers might affect nitrous oxide emissions from wheat cropping systems. Preliminary results from current studies indicate that these N sources may reduce nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. Enhanced N use efficiency by crops and reduced nitrous oxide emissions from using these fertilizer products would greatly benefit environmental quality. Our project objective is to evaluate the effects of controlled release and stabilized N sources on nitrous oxide emissions in rainfed wheat cropping systems. This study was conducted at the Palouse Conservation Field Station (PCFS) 1 mile NW of Pullman Washington, USA. The region has a semi-arid temperate climate with typical mean temperature of 27.8oC in August and -5.0 oC in January and rainfall of 530 mm yr-1 (average from 1940 to 2005). The soil at the site is a Palouse silt loam classified as fine-silty, mixed, superactive, mesic Pachic Ultic Haploxerolls. Soil organic matter (SOM) content of about 3.5%; pH of 5.6; and clay, silt, and sand content of 20, 59, and 21%, respectively. The cropping system is no-till winter wheat-pea rotation. The crop was Madsen Winter Wheat, planted October 30, 2009. The fertilizers tested were ESN®, (44% N) a polymer coated urea; SuperU® (46% N) urea containing urease inhibitors; Urea (46% N) and a no N applied treatment was included. The application rate was 100 lbs/ac. The precipitation for 2009-2010 was far below normal being 4 inches below normal by May 2010. This water deficit may affect N2O flux from the soil from different fertilizers.

Cumulative growing season N2O emissions (Feb 5-April 1,2010) for each N source was lower in 2010 than the 2009 emissions. The enhanced efficiency fertilizers (polymer-coated, and urease inhibited) sources showed potential for reducing N2O emissions in no-till winter wheat. Super U and urea had the highest emissions approaching 70 g N2O-N / ha, compared to ESN at 40 g N2O-N / ha and the control emitting 20 g N2O-N / ha. Slow release and coated urea based fertilizers have been shown to reduce N2O emissions in irrigated systems, however this one of the first to show reduced emissions under dryland conditions.


Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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