Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: MANAGE MANURE TO REDUCE AMMONIA LOSS AND IMPROVE N UTILIZATION FOR CORN SILAGE PRODUCTION

Authors
item Jokela, Bill - UNIV VERMONT, BURLINGTON
item MEISINGER, JOHN

Submitted to: Extension Service Bulletins
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: September 7, 2004
Publication Date: September 30, 2004
Citation: Jokela, B., Meisinger, J.J. 2004. Manage manure to reduce ammonia loss and improve n utilization for corn silage production. Extension Service Bulletins.

Interpretive Summary: Ammonia volatilization is a major nitrogen (N) loss process for surface-applied manures. There is growing public concern that current manure management practices may be promoting ammonia enrichment of streams and estuaries. Agriculture is the major source of ammonia emissions to the atmosphere, contributing an estimated 90% of total emissions. Land application of manures is estimated to be the largest source of agricultural ammonia in the Northeast. Ammonia losses from land application can vary from 5-95% of the manure ammonium-N depending on management practices and environmental conditions. The major factors affecting manure ammonia loss from land applications are: manure characteristics, such as dry matter content; application method, such as, incorporation or injection; soil conditions, such as soil moisture or residue cover; and environmental factors, such as temperature and wind speed. The largest losses occur from surface applications to soils with high residue cover under warm weather conditions. The most effective method to minimize loss is immediate incorporation by direct injection or by tillage. The particular management choice will depend on the circumstances of the individual livestock producer. Adopting manure management practices that conserve ammonium-N can lower fertilizer costs and reduce odors and the likelihood of nutrient loss in runoff, thus providing both economic savings to the farmer and environmental benefits to society.

Technical Abstract: Ammonia (NH3)volatilization is a major nitrogen (N) loss process for surface-applied manures. There is growing public concern that current manure management practices may be promoting NH3 enrichment of streams, estuaries, and coastal waters. Agriculture is the major source of NH3 emissions to the atmosphere, contributing an estimated 90% of total emissions. Land application of manures is estimated to be the largest source of agricultural NH3 in the Northeast. Ammonia losses from land application can vary from 5-95% of the manure ammonium-N (NH4-N) depending on management practices and environmental conditions. The major factors affecting manure NH3 loss from land applications are i) manure characteristics (dry matter content, pH, NH4-N content), ii) application technique (incorporation, band application, time of application), iii) soil conditions (soil moisture, soil cation exchange capacity, plant/residue cover), and iv) environmental factors (temperature, wind speed, rainfall). The largest losses occur from surface applications to soils with high residue cover under high evaporation weather conditions. The most effective method to minimize loss is immediate incorporation by direct injection or by tillage. The particular management choice will depend on the circumstances of the individual livestock producer. Adopting manure management practices that conserve ammonium-N can lower fertilizer costs and reduce odors and the likelihood of nutrient loss in runoff, thus providing both economic savings to the farmer and environmental benefits to society.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014