Tillage and manure application effects on mineral nitrogen leaching from seasonally frozen soils

Satish Gupta, Emmanuel Munyankusi, John Moncrief, Francis Zvomuya, Matt Hanewall

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54 Scopus citations


Land application of manure is a common practice in the Upper Midwest of the United States. Recently, there have been concerns regarding the effect of this practice on water quality, especially when manure is applied during winter over frozen soils. A study undertaken on a Rozetta slit loam (fine-silty, mixed, superactive, mesic Typic Hapludalfs) at Lancaster, WI, evaluated the effects of tillage and timing of manure application on surface and subsurface water quality. The daily scrape and haul liquid dairy manure was applied either in the fall (before snow) or in winter (over snow with frozen soil underneath) to be compared with no manure under two tillage systems (no-till and chisel-plowing). In this paper, we report results on the effects of the above treatments on mineral N leaching. Percolation and mineral N leaching during the nongrowing season were, respectively, 72 and 78% of the annual losses, mainly because of the absence of plant water and N uptake. Percolation was generally higher from no-till compared with chisel-plow but there was no significant effect of tillage on mineral N concentration of the leachate or mineral N losses via leaching. Mineral N leaching was statistically higher from the manure-applied vs. no-manure treatment, but there was no difference between winter-applied manure and no-manure treatments. There were significant tillage by manure interactions with fall manure application followed by chisel-plowing resulting in highest N leaching losses. Averaged over the two years, N leaching rates were 52, 38, and 28 kg N ha-1 yr-1 from fall-applied, winter-applied, and nomanure treatments, respectively. These results show that there is substantial N leaching from these soils even when no fertilizer or manure is applied. Furthermore, fall-applied manure followed by fall tillage significantly increases N leaching due to enhanced mineralization of both soil and manure organic N.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1238-1246
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004


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