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On-farm assessment of the amount and timing of nitrogen fertilizer on ammonia volatilization

Ma, B.L., Wu, T.Y., Tremblay, N., Deen, W., McLaughlin, N.B., Morrison, M.J., Stewart, G. (2010). On-farm assessment of the amount and timing of nitrogen fertilizer on ammonia volatilization, 102(1), 134-144.


Ammonia (NH3) volatilization is one of the main pathways through which applied N enters the environment undesirably. A seven site-year on-farm field experiment was performed for 3 yr at Ottawa, ON, and 2 yr at Guelph, ON, and Saint-Valentin, QC, Canada. Our objectives were to (i) quantify the flux and the amount of NH3 volatilization as affected by the rate and time of N fertilizer; (ii) assess the impact of rainfall and soil temperatures on NH3 volatilization; and (iii) determine the threshold level of N fertilizer at which large NH3 volatilization losses occur. Using the static chamber method, NH3 volatilization was monitored after preplant or sidedress N application. Rate of NH3 volatilization peaked at 3 to 7 d and then dropped sharply within next 7 d before leveling off in the following weeks. The amount of NH3 volatilization increased with increasing N levels applied preplant or sidedress at all site- years. Peak NH3 volatilization ranged from 40 to 8000 g N ha-1 d-1 after preplant fertilization and from about 100 to 2100 g N ha-1 d-1 after sidedress, resulting in NH3 losses of 0.1 to 47 kg N ha-1 and 0.6 to 20 kg N ha-1, respectively, equivalent to 0.1 to 38% and 0.3 to 13% of fertilizer-induced emission (FIE) within 28 d after preplant or sidedress N fertilization. Our data clearly indicate that sidedress applications enable reduction in N fertilizer for economic crop yields, and may reduce losses simply due to lower total N rates. © 2010 by the American Society of Agronomy.

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