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Cover crop effects on nitrous oxide emission from a manure-treated Mollisol

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Agriculture contributes 40-60% of the total annual N₂O emissions to the atmosphere. Development of management practices to reduce these emissions would have a significant impact on greenhouse gas levels. Non-leguminous cover crops are efficient scavengers of residual soil NO₃, thereby reducing leaching losses. However, the effect of a grass cover crop on N₂O emissions from soil receiving liquid swine manure has not been evaluated. This study investigated: (i) the temporal patterns of N₂O emissions following addition of swine manure slurry in a laboratory setting under fluctuating soil moisture regimes; (ii) assessed the potential of a rye (Secale cereale L.) cover crop to decrease N₂O emissions under these conditions; and (iii) quantified field N₂O emissions in response to either spring applied urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) or different rates of fall-applied liquid swine manure, in the presence or absence of a rye/oat winter cover crop. Laboratory experiments investigating cover crop effects N₂O emissions were performed in a controlled environment chamber programmed for a 14h light period, 18°C day temperature, and 15°C night temperature. Treatments with or without a living rye cover crop were treated with either: (i) no manure; (ii) a phosphorus-based manure application rate (low manure): or (iii) a nitrogen-based manure application rate (high manure). We observed a significant reduction in N₂O emissions in the presence of the rye cover crop. Field experiments were performed on a fine-loamy soil in Central Iowa from October 12, 2005 to October 2, 2006. We observed no significant effect of the cover crop on cumulative N₂O emissions in the field. The primary factor influencing N₂O emission was N application rate, regardless of form or timing. The response of N₂O emission to N additions was non-linear, with progressively more N₂O emitted with increasing N application. These results indicate that while cover crops have the potential to reduce N₂O emissions, N application rate may be the overriding factor.
Jarecki, Marek K. , Parkin, Timothy B. , Chan, Alvarus S.K. , Kaspar, Thomas C. , Moorman, Thomas B. , Singer, Jeremy W. , Kerr, Brian J. , Hatfield, Jerry L. , Jones, Raymond
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Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2009 Nov., v. 134, no. 1-2
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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