, Volume 280, Issue 1-2, pp 177-188

The Impact of Nitrogen Placement and Tillage on NO, N2O, CH4 and CO2 Fluxes from a Clay Loam Soil

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To evaluate the impact of N placement depth and no-till (NT) practice on the emissions of NO, N2O, CH4 and CO2 from soils, we conducted two N placement experiments in a long-term tillage experiment site in northeastern Colorado in 2004. Trace gas flux measurements were made 2–3 times per week, in zero-N fertilizer plots that were cropped continuously to corn (Zea mays L.) under conventional-till (CT) and NT. Three N placement depths, replicated four times (5, 10 and 15 cm in Exp. 1 and 0, 5 and 10 cm in Exp. 2, respectively) were used. Liquid urea–ammonium nitrate (UAN, 224 kg N ha−1) was injected to the desired depth in the CT- or NT-soils in each experiment. Mean flux rates of NO, N2O, CH4 and CO2 ranged from 3.9 to 5.2 μg N m−2 h−1, 60.5 to 92.4 μg N m−2 h−1, −0.8 to 0.5 μg C m−2 h−1, and 42.1 to 81.7 mg C m−2 h−1 in both experiments, respectively. Deep N placement (10 and 15 cm) resulted in lower NO and N2O emissions compared with shallow N placement (0 and 5 cm) while CH4 and CO2 emissions were not affected by N placement in either experiment. Compared with N placement at 5 cm, for instance, averaged N2O emissions from N placement at 10 cm were reduced by more than 50% in both experiments. Generally, NT decreased NO emission and CH4 oxidation but increased N2O emissions compared with CT irrespective of N placement depths. Total net global warming potential (GWP) for N2O, CH4 and CO2 was reduced by deep N placement only in Exp. 1 but was increased by NT in both experiments. The study results suggest that deep N placement (e.g., 10 cm) will be an effective option for reducing N oxide emissions and GWP from both fertilized CT- and NT-soils.