Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 145–152 | Cite as

Dairy manure N mineralization estimates from incubations and litterbags

  • P. R. Cusick
  • J. M. Powell
  • K. A. Kelling
  • R. F. Hensler
  • G. R. Muňoz
Original Paper


A laboratory incubation trial and a field litterbag study were conducted to determine the rate and magnitude of mineralization of dairy manure N components in a south central Wisconsin silt loam. Dairy manure components (urine, feces, or bedding, each 15N-labeled and the other components left unlabeled) were incubated in soil at 11, 18, or 25°C. Samples were taken at 14, 21, 42, 84, and 168 days and analyzed for mineralized N (\(\rm NH^{ + }_{4}\) and \(\rm NO^{ - }_{3}\)) and 15N abundance in the inorganic and organic fraction (at day 168 only). In the field study, nylon mesh (38 μm) litterbags filled with 15N-labeled manure (2000) or unlabeled manure (2000 and 2002) were placed 7.5 cm below the surface and excavated at 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 (2000 only), 42, 56, 84, 98, and 126 days after burial and at corn (Zea mays L.) harvest, after 142 days in 2002 and 154 days in 2000. In the incubation study, 50−60% of applied urine N was mineralized showing the importance of this manure N component as a source of plant available N. About 14−19% of applied N was mineralized from the fecal and bedding components. In the litterbag experiment, approximately 70% of the dry mass and 67% of the N was mineralized from the litterbags with similar amounts measured using either labeled or unlabeled N. Rates of manure organic matter decomposition and N mineralization were best predicted using single exponential models for both years with most of the release occurring during the first 21 days.


Dairy manure N mineralization Organic matter decomposition 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. R. Cusick
    • 1
  • J. M. Powell
    • 1
  • K. A. Kelling
    • 2
  • R. F. Hensler
    • 3
  • G. R. Muňoz
    • 2
  1. 1.US Dairy Forage Research CenterMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Soil ScienceUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.College of Natural ResourcesUniversity of Wisconsin-Stevens PointStevens PointUSA

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