Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Ammonia emissions from pig and cattle slurry in the field and utilization of slurry nitrogen in crop production

Pasi Mattila

Doctoral dissertation, November 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, Maaperä- ja ympäristötiede and MTT Agrifood Research Finland.

Volatilization of ammonia (NH3) from animal manure is a major pathway for nitrogen (N) losses that cause eutrophication, acidification, and other environmental hazards. In this study, the effect of alternative techniques of manure treatment (aeration, separation, addition of peat) and application (broadcast spreading, band spreading, injection, incorporation by harrowing) on ammonia emissions in the field and on nitrogen uptake by ley or cereals was studied. The effect of a mixture of slurry and peat on soil properties was also investigated. The aim of this study was to find ways to improve the utilization of manure nitrogen and reduce its release to the environment.

Injection into the soil or incorporation by harrowing clearly reduced ammonia volatilization from slurry more than did the surface application onto a smaller area by band spreading or reduction of the dry matter of slurry by aeration or separation. Surface application showed low ammonia volatilization, when pig slurry was applied to tilled bare clay soil or to spring wheat stands in early growth stages. Apparently, the properties of both slurry and soil enabled the rapid infiltration and absorption of slurry and its ammoniacal nitrogen by the soil. On ley, however, surface-applied cattle slurry lost about half of its ammoniacal nitrogen.

The volatilization of ammonia from surface-applied peat manure was slow, but proceeded over a long period of time. After rain or irrigation, the peat manure layer on the soil surface retarded evaporation. Incorporation was less important for the fertilizer effect of peat manure than for pig slurry, but both manures were more effective when incorporated. Peat manure applications increase soil organic matter content and aggregate stability. Stubble mulch tillage hastens the effect in surface soil compared with ploughing.

The apparent recovery of ammoniacal manure nitrogen in crop yield was higher with injection and incorporation than with surface applications. This was the case for leys as well as for spring cereals, even though ammonia losses from manures applied to cereals were relatively low with surface applications as well. The ammoniacal nitrogen of surface-applied slurry was obviously adsorbed by the very surface soil and remained mostly unavailable to plant roots in the dry soil. Supplementing manures with inorganic fertilizer nitrogen, which adds plant-available nitrogen to the soil at the start of growth, increased the overall recovery of applied nitrogen in crop yields.

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Last updated 20.10.2006

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