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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Improving Nutrient Utilization in Western Irrigated Crop Production Systems

Location: Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research

Title: Manure and inorganic fertilizer effects on carbon balance and losses in irrigated corn

Authors
item Lentz, Rodrick
item Lehrsch, Gary

Submitted to: CSA News
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: May 20, 2014
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Citation: Lentz, R.D., Lehrsch, G.A. 2014. Manure and fertilizer effects on organic and inorganic carbon losses and budget for an irrigated corn field. CSA News. 59(6):14,19.

Technical Abstract: Little is known about inorganic fertilizer or manure effects on organic carbon (OC) and inorganic C (IC) losses from a furrow irrigated field, particularly in the context of other system C gains or losses. In 2003 and 2004, we measured dissolved organic and inorganic C (DOC, DIC), particulate OC and IC (POC, PIC) concentrations in irrigation inflow, runoff, and percolation waters (6-7 irrigations/y); C inputs from soil amendments and crop biomass; harvested C; and gaseous C emissions from field plots cropped to silage corn (Zea mays L.) in southern Idaho. Annual treatments included: (M) 13 (y 1) and 34 Mg/ha (y 2) stockpiled dairy manure; (F) 78 (yr 1) and 195 kg N/ha (y 2) inorganic N fertilizer; or (NA) no amendment--control. The mean annual total C input into M plots averaged 16.1 Mg/ha, 1.4-times greater than that for NA (11.5 Mg/ha) or F (11.1 Mg/ha), while total C outputs for the three treatments were similar, averaging 11.8 Mg/ha. Thus, the manure plots ended each growing season with an average net gain of 3.8 Mg C/ha (a positive net C flux), while the control (-0.5 Mg C/ha) and fertilizer (-0.4 Mg C/ha) treatments finished the season with a net C loss. Atmospheric CO2 incorporated into the crop biomass contributed 96% of the mean annual C input to NA and F plots but only 68% to M plots. We conclude that nutrient amendments substantially influence the short-term carbon balance of our furrow-irrigated system. Amendments had both direct and indirect influences on individual C components, such as the losses of DIC and POC in runoff and DOC in percolation water, producing temporally complex outcomes which may depend on environmental conditions external to the field.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014
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