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Nitrogen Source Impacts Nitrous Oxide Emissions In Strip-Tilled Corn

Source: USDA Agricultural Research Service

Enhanced efficiency fertilizers — polymer-coated, stabilized, and slow release — showed potential for reducing nitrous oxide emissions in strip-tilled, irrigated corn in a 2009 USDA Agricultural Research Service study in Colorado.

The effects of nitrogen-fertilizer sources on nitrous oxide emissions from a strip-till, irrigated, continuous cornfield near Fort Collins, Colo., was evaluated by scientists in 2009.

Nitrous oxide emissions were monitored from plots receiving six different inorganic nitrogen fertilizer sources — urea; ESN; SuperU: UAN; UAN+AgrotainPlus; and UAN+Nfusion.

The nitrogen was surface band-applied near the corn row at a rate of about 179 pounds of nitrogen per acre and watered with 0.75 inches of irrigation water into the soil the day after application. A subsurface band application of ESN was included, as well as a blank treatment (no nitrogen applied) within the nitrogen source plot. A check plot (no nitrogen applied) located in a separate plot was also included.

All nitrogen sources had significantly lower growing-season nitrous oxide emissions than dry granular urea. Cumulative increases in daily nitrous oxide fluxes were more rapid for urea and UAN following nitrogen application than for the other nitrogen sources.

Corn yields in 2009 were not significantly different between nitrogen sources receiving about 179 pounds of nitrogen per acre.

These first-year results under strip-till conditions indicate nitrogen sources need to be evaluated further to confirm their potential value in reducing nitrous oxide emissions in irrigated cropping systems.

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