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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #330564

Research Project: Increasing Sustainability and Mitigating Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Food and Biofuel Production Systems of the Upper Midwest U.S.

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: Corn nitrogen management influences nitrous oxide emissions in drained and undrained soils

Author
item Fernandez, Fabian - University Of Minnesota
item Venterea, Rodney - Rod
item Fabrizzi, Karina - University Of Minnesota

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/4/2016
Publication Date: 11/10/2016
Citation: Fernandez, F., Venterea, R.T., Fabrizzi, K. 2016. Corn nitrogen management influences nitrous oxide emissions in drained and undrained soils. Journal of Environmental Quality. 45(6):1847-1855. doi:10.2134/jeq2016.06.0237.

Interpretive Summary: Tile-drainage and nitrogen (N) fertilization are important for corn (Zea mays L.) production. To date, no studies have evaluated nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions of single vs. split-N fertilizer application under different soil drainage conditions. The objective of this study was to quantify season-long cumulative N2O emissions and N use efficiency when corn received a recommended N rate as single or split-N application in drained and undrained poorly-drained Minnesota soils over two growing seasons. Tile-drainage can reduce N2O emissions during excess moisture, but may not affect grain production or other agronomic parameters. Conversely, when precipitation is adequate and well distributed tile-drainage may not affect N2O emissions, but can enhance grain yield. Averaged across years, the undrained soil emitted 1.8 times more N2O than the drained soil (2.36 vs. 1.29 kg N ha-1). Compared to the Zero-N control, the Single Preplant and Split N applications emitted 2.1 and 1.6 times more N2O, produced 1.4 and 1.3 greater grain yield, and resulted in 1.5 and 1.4 times more residual soil total inorganic nitrogen (TIN), respectively. Per unit of grain produced, however, the Split application emitted approximately the same amount of N2O as the Zero-N control. Further, averaged across years and drainage treatments, Split application emitted 26% less N2O than Single Preplant application (1.84 vs. 2.48 kg N ha-1, P < 0.001) with no differences in grain yield. These results highlight the importance of soil drainage for N2O emissions and that a Split N application may be a feasible way to achieving N2O reduction while enhancing grain production.These results will be useful to scientists, land managers and policy-makers interested in improving management to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural lands.

Technical Abstract: Tile-drainage and nitrogen (N) fertilization are important for corn (Zea mays L.) production. To date, no studies have evaluated nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions of single vs. split-N fertilizer application under different soil drainage conditions. The objective of this study was to quantify season-long cumulative N2O emissions and N use efficiency when corn received a recommended N rate as single or split-N application in drained and undrained poorly-drained Minnesota soils over two growing seasons. Tile-drainage can reduce N2O emissions during excess moisture, but may not affect grain production or other agronomic parameters. Conversely, when precipitation is adequate and well distributed tile-drainage may not affect N2O emissions, but can enhance grain yield. Averaged across years, the undrained soil emitted 1.8 times more N2O than the drained soil (2.36 vs. 1.29 kg N ha-1). Compared to the Zero-N control, the Single Preplant and Split N applications emitted 2.1 and 1.6 times more N2O, produced 1.4 and 1.3 greater grain yield, and resulted in 1.5 and 1.4 times more residual soil total inorganic nitrogen (TIN), respectively. Per unit of grain produced, however, the Split application emitted approximately the same amount of N2O as the Zero-N control. Further, averaged across years and drainage treatments, Split application emitted 26% less N2O than Single Preplant application (1.84 vs. 2.48 kg N ha-1, P < 0.001) with no differences in grain yield. These results highlight the importance of soil drainage for N2O emissions and that a Split N application may be a feasible way to achieving N2O reduction while enhancing grain production.