Location: Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research
Title: Manure and inorganic fertilizer effects on carbon balance and losses in irrigated corn Authors
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.