A 3-year study was conducted in cornfield to evaluate how composted cattle manure application affects net global warming potential (GWP; the sum of nitrous oxide (N2
O) and methane (CH4
) minus net ecosystem carbon balance (NECB)) and greenhouse gas intensity (GHGI; net GWP per unit of plant biomass yield). In the first experiment, conducted from 2010 to 2012, five fertilization strategies that included an unfertilized control plot, inorganic fertilizer-only plot, two plots with inorganic fertilizer plus composted cattle manure, and composted cattle manure-only plot were established. In the second experiment composted cattle manure was applied in autumn 2012 and the field was subdivided into three plots in spring 2013, with one plot receiving additional composted cattle manure, the second plot received additional inorganic fertilizer and the third plot did not receive any additional fertilization. Fluxes of N2
were measured using the static closed chamber method. NECB was calculated as carbon (C) inputs minus C output (where a negative value indicates net C loss). In experiment 1, manure application significantly increased NECB and reduced net GWP by more than 30% in each of the three years of the study. GHGI in the manure-amended plots was lower than in other plots, except in 2012 when the manure-only plot had higher GHGI than fertilizer-only plot. Application of inorganic fertilizer alone increased GWP by 5% and 20% in 2010 and 2011, but showed a 30% reduction in 2012 relative to the unfertilized control plot. However, due to higher net primary production (NPP), fertilizer-only plot had lower GHGI compared to the control. Application of inorganic fertilizer together with manure showed the greatest potential to reduce GWP and GHGI, while increasing NPP and NECB. In experiment 2, additional manure or inorganic fertilizer application in spring increased NPP by a similar amount, but additional manure application also increased NECB, and decreased GWP and GHGI. Manure application, as a partial substitute or supplemental fertilizer, shows potential to mitigate GWP and GHGI.
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