Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 71–80 | Cite as

Reducing ammonia volatilization in a no-till soil by incorporating urea and pig slurry in shallow bands

  • Philippe RochetteEmail author
  • Denis A. Angers
  • Martin H. Chantigny
  • J. Douglas MacDonald
  • Marc-Olivier Gasser
  • Normand Bertrand
Research article


Incorporation of broadcast pig slurry and urea into soil is incompatible with no-till production systems and alternative application methods that reduce NH3-N loss are required. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of incorporating urea and pig slurry in shallow furrows (banding) on NH3 volatilization. A field study was conducted on a silty loam soil that had been under no-till for 2 years. Ammonia volatilization was measured for 29 days after urea and pig slurry (140 kg N ha−1) were broadcast or incorporated (5 cm) in bands. High urease activity and soil temperatures as well as an absence of rainfall combined to result in large losses of NH3-N from all treatments. Broadcast urea lost the greatest proportion of applied N (64%) followed by banded urea (31%), broadcast pig slurry (29%) and banded pig slurry (16%). High emissions from broadcast urea were consistent with previous reports of large volatilization losses on no-till soils. Presence of crop residues and associated high urease activity (288 μg NH4-N g−1 h−1) at the surface of no-till soils were likely important factors contributing to these high emissions. Incorporation of slurry and urea in bands was not as efficient in reducing volatilization as expected but not for the same reason. Relatively high emissions from banded slurry were the result of an incomplete incorporation of slurry in the shallow bands and indicate that the benefit of this practice is limited at high slurry application rates. In banded urea plots, hydrolysis of concentrated urea likely resulted in high localized NH4 + concentrations and pH, which increased NH3 source strength and emissions. Our results therefore suggest that incorporating urea in bands may not be as efficient for reducing NH3 emissions as incorporation of broadcasted urea which results in lower soil urea concentrations.


Ammonia volatilization No-till Urea Pig slurry 



This study was funded by the GAPS Initiative of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. We thank Johanne Tremblay, Nicole Bissonnette, Jean-Marie Noël, Michel Noël, Alain Gonthier, Kenneth Dumont, and Gabriel Lévesque for their assistance in field and laboratory work during this study.


  1. Al-Kanani T, MacKenzie AF (1992) Effect of tillage practices and hay straw on ammonia volatilization from nitrogen fertilizer solutions. Can J Soil Sci 72:145–157Google Scholar
  2. Bacon PE, Freney JR (1989) Nitrogen loss from different tillage systems and the effect on cereal grain yield. Fertilizer Res 20:59–66. doi: 10.1007/BF01055429 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bandick AK, Dick RP (1999) Field management effects on soil enzyme activities. Soil Biol Biochem 31:1471–1479. doi: 10.1016/S0038-0717(99)00051-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bergstrom DW, Monreal CM, King DJ (1998) Sensitivity of soil enzyme activities to conservation practices. Soil Sci Soc Am J 62:1286–1295Google Scholar
  5. Bergstrom DW, Monreal CM, Tomlin AD, Miller JJ (2000) Interpretation of soil enzyme activities in a comparison of tillage practices along a topographic and textural gradient. Can J Soil Sci 80:71–79Google Scholar
  6. Bittman S, Van Vliet LJP, Kowalenko CG, McGinn SM, Hunt DE, Bounaix F (2005) Surface-banding liquid manure over aeration slots: a new low-disturbance method for reducing ammonia emissions and improving yield of perennial grasses. Agron J 97:1304–1313. doi: 10.2134/agronj2004.0277 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bouwman AF, Lee DS, Asman WAH, Dentener FJ, Van Der Hoek KW, Olivier JGJ (1997) A global high-resolution emission inventory for ammonia. Global Biogeochem Cycles 11:561–587. doi: 10.1029/97GB02266 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bouwman AF, Boumans LJM, Batjes NH (2002) Estimation of global NH3 volatilization loss from synthetic fertilizers and animal manure applied to arable lands and grasslands. Global Biogeochem Cycles. doi: 10.1029/2000GB001389 Google Scholar
  9. Bouwmeester RJB, Vlek PLG, Stumpe JM (1985) Effect of environmental factors on ammonia volatilization from a urea-fertilized soil. Soil Sci Soc Am J 49:376–381Google Scholar
  10. Buresh RJ (1987) Ammonia volatilization from point-placed urea in upland, sandy soils. Fertilizer Res 12:263–268. doi: 10.1007/BF01315110 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Canadian Fertilizer Institute (2007) Canadian annual fertilizer sales report.
  12. Chantigny MH, Angers DA, Rochette P, Bélanger G, Massé D, Côté D (2007) Gaseous nitrogen emissions and forage nitrogen uptake on soils fertilized with raw and treated swine manure. J Environ Qual 36:1864–1872. doi: 10.2134/jeq2007.0083 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dick WA (1984) Influence of long-term tillage and crop rotation combinations on soil enzyme activities. Soil Sci Soc Am J 48:569–574Google Scholar
  14. du Preez CC, Burger RDUT (1987) Effect of application methods on ammonia volatilization from soils in controlled environment. S Afr J Plant Soil 4:57–60Google Scholar
  15. Environment Canada (2007) Government of Canada five-year progress report: Canada-wide standards for particulate matter and ozone. Environment Canada Publication, ISBN 0-662-44480-9 Cat. no.: En4-74/2006E, Gatineau,
  16. Fenn LB, Miyamoto S (1981) Ammonia loss and associated reactions of urea in calcareous soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 45:537–540Google Scholar
  17. Ferguson RB, Kissel DE, Koelliker JK, Basel W (1984) Ammonia volatilization from surface-applied urea: effect of hydrogen ion buffering capacity. Soil Sci Soc Am J 48:578–582Google Scholar
  18. Galloway JN, Aber J, Erisman J, Seitzinger S, Howarth R, Cowling E, Cosby B (2003) The nitrogen cascade. Bioscience 53:341–356. doi: 10.1641/0006-3568(2003)053[0341:TNC]2.0.CO;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Harper LA (2005) Ammoia: measurement issues. In: Hatfield JL, Baker JM (eds) Micrometeorology in agricultural systems. Agron Monogr 47. ASA/CSSA/SSSA, Madison, pp 345–380Google Scholar
  20. Huijsmans JFM, Hol JMG, Vermeulen GD (2003) Effect of application method, manure characteristics, weather and field conditions on ammonia volatilization from manure applied to arable land. Atmos Environ 37:3669–3680. doi: 10.1016/S1352-2310(03)00450-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Izaurralde RC, Kissel DE, Cabrera ML (1987) Titratable acidity to estimate ammonia retention. Soil Sci Soc Am J 51:1050–1054Google Scholar
  22. Keller GD, Mengel DB (1986) Ammonia volatilization from nitrogen fertilizers surface applied to no-till corn. Soil Sci Soc Am J 50:1060–1063CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lindstrom MJ, Onstad CA (1984) Influence of tillage systems on soil physical parameters and infiltration after planting. J Soil Water Conserv 39:149–152Google Scholar
  24. Lockyer DR (1984) A system for the measurement in the field of losses of ammonia through volatilisation. J Sci Food Agric 35:837–848. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.2740350805 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Malhi SS, Grant CA, Johnston AM, Gill KS (2001) Nitrogen fertilization management for no-till cereal production in the Canadian Great Plains: a review. Soil Tillage Res 60:101–122. doi: 10.1016/S0167-1987(01)00176-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Montero FA, Sagardoy MA, Dick RP (2004) Temporal variability of microbial populations and enzyme activities of no-tillage soils in Argentina. Arid Land Res Manag 18:201–215. doi: 10.1080/15324980490451294 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Nannipieri P, Johnson RL, Paul EA (1978) Criteria for measurement of microbial growth and activity in soil. Soil Biol Biochem 10:223–229. doi: 10.1016/0038-0717(78)90100-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Overrein LN, Moe PG (1967) Factors affecting urea hydrolysis and ammonia volatilization in soil. Soil Sci Soc Am J 31:57–61Google Scholar
  29. Palma RM, Saubidet MI, Rìmolo M, Utsumi J (1998) Nitrogen losses by volatilization in a corn crop with two tillage systems in the Argentine pampa. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 29:2865–2879CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rees RM, Roelcke M, Li SX, Wang XQ, Li SQ, Stockdale EA, McTaggart IP, Smith KA, Richter J (1996) The effect of fertilizer placement on nitrogen uptake and yield of wheat and maize in Chinese loess soils. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 47:81–91. doi: 10.1007/BF01985721 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rochette P, Chantigny MH, Angers DA, Bertrand N, Côté D (2001) Ammonia volatilization and soil nitrogen dynamics following fall application of pig slurry on canola crop residues. Can J Soil Sci 81:515–523Google Scholar
  32. Rochette P, Angers DA, Chantigny MH, MacDonald JD, Bissonnette N, Bertrand N (2008) Ammonia volatilization following surface application of urea to tilled and no-till soils: a laboratory comparison. Soil Tillage Res (in press)Google Scholar
  33. Sainz Rozas H, Echeverría HE, Studdert GA, Andrade FH (1997) Ammonia volatilization from urea in corn under direct drilling. Volatilización de amoniaco desde urea aplicada al cultivo de maíz bajo siembra directa. Cienc Suelo 15:12–16Google Scholar
  34. Sainz Rozas H, Echeverría HE, Studdert GA, Andrade FH (1999) No-till maize nitrogen uptake and yield: effect of urease inhibitor and application time. Agron J 91:950–955Google Scholar
  35. SAS-Institute (1989) SAS/STAT user’s guide, 4th edn. SAS Institute Inc., CaryGoogle Scholar
  36. Smith KA, Jackson DR, Misselbrook TH, Pain BF, Johnson RA (2000) Reduction of ammonia emission by slurry application techniques. J Agric Eng Res 77:277–287. doi: 10.1006/jaer.2000.0604 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Søgaard HT, Sommer SG, Hutchings NJ, Huijsmans JFM, Bussink DW, Nicholson F (2002) Ammonia volatilization from field-applied animal manure—the ALFAM model. Atmos Environ 36:3309–3319. doi: 10.1016/S1352-2310(02)00300-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sommer SG, Génermont S, Cellier P, Hutchings NJ, Olesen JE, Morvan T (2003) Processes controlling ammonia emission from livestock slurry in the field. Eur J Agron 19:465–486. doi: 10.1016/S1161-0301(03)00037-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sommer SG, Schjørring JK, Denmead OT (2004) Ammonia emission from mineral fertilizers and fertilized crops. Adv Agron 82:557–622. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2113(03)82008-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Thompson RB, Meisinger JJ (2004) Gaseous nitrogen losses and ammonia volatilization measurement following land application of cattle slurry in the mid-Atlantic region of the USA. Plant Soil 266:231–246. doi: 10.1007/s11104-005-1361-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Urban WJ, Hargrove WL, Bock BR, Raunikar RA (1987) Evaluation of urea-urea phosphate as a nitrogen source for no-tillage production. Soil Sci Soc Am J 51:242–246Google Scholar
  42. Wang Z, Goonewardene LA (2004) The use of MIXED models in the analysis of animal experiments with repeated measures data. Can J Anim Sci 84:1–11Google Scholar
  43. Zubillaga MS, Zubillaga MDLM, Urricariet S, Lavado RS (2002) Effect of nitrogen sources on ammonia volatilization, grain yield and soil nitrogen losses in no-till wheat in an Argentine soil. Agrochimica 46:100–107Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philippe Rochette
    • 1
    Email author
  • Denis A. Angers
    • 1
  • Martin H. Chantigny
    • 1
  • J. Douglas MacDonald
    • 1
  • Marc-Olivier Gasser
    • 2
  • Normand Bertrand
    • 1
  1. 1.Agriculture and Agri-Food CanadaQuébec CityCanada
  2. 2.Institut de Recherche et de Développement en AgroenvironnementQuébec CityCanada

Personalised recommendations