Short-Term Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Cattle Slurry for Silage Maize: Effects of Placement and the Nitrification Inhibitor 3,4-Dimethylpyrazole Phosphate (DMPP)

Cattle slurry is an important nitrogen source for maize on dairy farms. Slurry injection is an effective measure to reduce ammonia emissions after field application, but with higher risk of nitrous oxide emission than surface application. This study compared soil mineral nitrogen dynamics and nitrous oxide emissions with two ways of application. First, traditional injection at 25 cm spacing between rows followed by ploughing (called “non-placed slurry”), and second, injection using a new so-called goosefoot slurry injector that placed the slurry in ploughed soil as a 30 cm broad band at 10 cm depth below maize crop rows with 75 cm spacing (named “placed slurry”). Furthermore, the effect of treating slurry with the nitrification inhibitor 3,4-dimethylpyrazole phosphate (DMPP) in Vizura® was tested with both application methods. The field experiment was conducted on a sandy loam soil in a temperate climate. Both nitrous oxide emissions, and the dynamics of soil mineral nitrogen, were monitored for eight weeks after slurry application and seeding of maize using static chambers. The level of nitrous oxide emissions was higher with non-placed compared to placed slurry (p < 0.01), mainly due to higher emissions during the first four weeks. This might be due to higher rates of nitrification and in turn stimulation of denitrification. In both placed and non-placed slurry treatments, Vizura® caused higher soil ammonium concentrations and lower nitrate concentrations (p < 0.001), particularly from 3 to 8 weeks after slurry application. The final level of soil nitrate was similar with and without the nitrification inhibitor, but higher with placed compared to non-placed slurry. Adding Vizura® to non-placed slurry reduced nitrous oxide emissions by 70% when compared to untreated slurry. Surprisingly, there was a non-significant trend towards higher cumulative emissions from placed slurry with the nitrification inhibitor compared to untreated slurry, which was due to higher emissions in the last part of the monitoring period (5–7 weeks after slurry application). Possibly, degradation of the nitrification inhibitor and nitrification activity inside the slurry band as the soil dried promoted nitrous oxide emissions by this time. In summary, placement of untreated slurry in a broad band under maize seeds reduced nitrous oxide emissions compared to non-placed slurry with more soil contact. A comparable reduction was achieved by adding a nitrification inhibitor to non-placed slurry. The pattern of nitrous oxide emissions from placed slurry treated with the inhibitor was complex and requires more investigation. The emission of nitrous oxide was highest when nitrate accumulated in soil around decomposing cattle slurry, and mitigation strategies should aim to prevent this. This study demonstrated a potential for mitigation of nitrous oxide emission by placement of cattle slurry, which may be an alternative to the use of a nitrification inhibitor.
Publication history: Accepted - 8 November 2023; Published - 11 November 2023.
slurry application method, silage maize, nitrous oxide emissions, mineral nitrogen, nitrification inhibitor
Taghizadeh-Toosi, A., Baral, K.R., Sørensen, P. and Petersen, S.O. (2023) ‘Short-Term Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Cattle Slurry for Silage Maize: Effects of Placement and the Nitrification Inhibitor 3,4-Dimethylpyrazole Phosphate (DMPP)’, Sustainability. MDPI AG. Available at: