Soil N 2 O emissions as affected by long-term residue removal and no-till practices in continuous corn

Mingwei Yuan, Kristin D. Greer, Emerson D. Nafziger, Maria Bonita Villamil, Cameron M Pittelkow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The environmental consequences of residue removal practices to support cellulosic biofuel production remain poorly understood. In the U.S. Midwest, corn (Zea mays L.) stover removal combined with no-till practices may increase or decrease soil N 2 O emissions by influencing soil moisture, temperature, and nutrient dynamics, yet empirical evidence from long-term field experiments is inconsistent. We investigated the effects of residue management (residue retained or removed) and tillage (chisel-till or no-till) on cumulative soil nitrous oxide (N 2 O) emissions, grain yield, and yield-scaled N 2 O emissions in a 3-year study initiated 10 years after treatment implementation in a long-term, continuous corn experiment in Illinois, United States. Crop yields were affected by treatment in only one of three study years, with the combination of residue removal and no-till reducing yields compared to both chisel-till treatments. Cumulative N 2 O emissions, soil inorganic N concentrations, and yield-scaled N 2 O emissions differed over the 3-year period and were significantly affected by tillage, with no response to residue management. In 2 years, no-till decreased cumulative N 2 O emissions and yield-scaled N 2 O emissions by an average of 64% and 60%, respectively. Correlations between daily N 2 O fluxes and soil moisture, temperature, and inorganic N concentrations suggested that the relative importance of these variables changed depending on year and treatment. While more research across a range of sites and management practices is needed, our findings support previous studies which have challenged IPCC methodology assumptions regarding the effects of residue removal on N 2 O emissions. We conclude there is inherent difficulty in predicting the impacts of residue removal due to the complexity of soil processes underlying N 2 O emissions coupled with inter-annual weather variability in this rainfed continuous corn system. Future efforts to evaluate the net greenhouse gas emissions of cellulosic biofuel production may benefit from accounting for this uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)972-985
Number of pages14
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Volume10
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2018

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no-tillage
maize
Soils
corn
Soil moisture
soil
Biofuels
biofuels
biofuel
tillage
Gas emissions
Greenhouse gases
till
Nutrients
Crops
soil moisture
soil water
Experiments
removal
Fluxes

Keywords

  • Nitrous oxide
  • corn stover
  • no-till
  • residue removal
  • tillage
  • yield-scaled N O emissions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Waste Management and Disposal

Cite this

Soil N 2 O emissions as affected by long-term residue removal and no-till practices in continuous corn . / Yuan, Mingwei; Greer, Kristin D.; Nafziger, Emerson D.; Villamil, Maria Bonita; Pittelkow, Cameron M.

In: GCB Bioenergy, Vol. 10, No. 12, 12.2018, p. 972-985.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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