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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Livestock Nutrient Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #328130

Research Project: Develop Technologies to Protect Air Quality, Maintain Production Efficiency and Enhance Use of Manure from Southern Great Plains Beef and Dairy Agriculture

Location: Livestock Nutrient Management Research

Title: Urease inhibitor for reducing ammonia emissions from an open-lot beef cattle feedyard in the Texas High Plains

item Parker, David
item RHOADES, MARTY - West Texas A & M University
item KOZIEL, JACEK - Iowa State University
item BAEK, B.H. - University Of North Carolina
item Waldrip, Heidi
item Todd, Richard - Rick

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/19/2016
Publication Date: 12/22/2016
Citation: Parker, D.B., Rhoades, M.B., Koziel, J.A., Baek, B., Waldrip, H., Todd, R.W. 2016. Urease inhibitor for reducing ammonia emissions from an open-lot beef cattle feedyard in the Texas High Plains. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 32(6):823-832. doi:10.13031/aea.32.11897.

Interpretive Summary: There are seven million beef cattle raised in feedyards inonanure every year. Manure contains nitrogen, a valuable fertilizer resource when applied to crops, half of the nitrogen in manure is as ammonia gas before the manure can be removed from the feedyard pen. A chemical amendment, N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NTPT)(NBPT), has been effective in reducing ammonia emissions from manure in laboratory studies, but there has been little testing conducted under actual field conditions. NBPT was applied to six feedyard pens over a 42-day period at rates of 0.9, to 35.6 pounds per acre. The 35.6 pound per acre NBPT application rate retained 20 percent more nitrogen in the manure than the zero application rate, thus adding considerable fertilizer value to the manure.

Technical Abstract: Reduction of ammonia (NH3) emissions from animal feeding operations is important from the perspective of environmental policy and its impact on agriculture. In laboratory studies, urease inhibitors have been effective in reducing NH3 emissions from beef cattle manure, however there has been little testing under field conditions. An experiment was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the urease inhibitor N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT) for reducing NH3 flux from the pen surface at a beef cattle feedyard. NBPT was applied to six feedyard pens for 42 d (April-June) at rates of 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, and 40 kg/ha. NH3 flux was quantified using a flow-through flux chamber and chemiluminescence NH3 analyzer. Nutrient concentrations in the manure were monitored over the 42 d period. There was high spatial variability in NH3 emissions within individual pen, and NH3 flux was lognormally distributed (geo. mean=1,618 micrograms per square meter per minute; geo. std. dev.= 2.52 micrograms per square meter per minute; range 512 to 14,993 micrograms per square meter per minute). No statistical differences were observed in NH3 flux among the different NBPT application rates due to the high spatial variability in NH3 flux within pens. A post-experiment power analysis revealed that more than 500 individual flux chamber measurements would be needed per pen in order to detect a 10% difference in treatment means, an impractical task given the time and labor required for flux chamber research. At the completion of the six-week experiment, the 2 and 40 kg/ha NBPT treatments retained 9% and 20% more total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) in the manure than the control, respectively. In future research evaluating the long-term effectiveness of urease inhibitors for reducing NH3 emissions from open-lot beef cattle feeding operations, we recommend that micrometeorological methods would be more appropriate than small flux chambers.