Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

First Advisor

Erin L. Cortus


Ammonia flux, leachate nitrate, nitrous oxide flux, soil nitrogen loss


Nitrogen (N) is a major component of chlorophyll which plays a key role in the photosynthesis process in crops. The N is one of the highest demanded nutrients by all plants for their growth and reproduction. Manure or inorganic fertilizer is often applied to fulfill the crops’ N demand. However, the applied N sources have the potential of N losses in different forms from the soil volume in many ways such as ammonia (NH3) volatilization, aerial nitrous oxide (N2O) loss, nitrate (NO3 --N) leaching, and runoff and/or erosion. Soil fertility, crop yield, water quality, and air quality can be reduced by excessive N losses from the soil volume. The goal of this study was to understand the effect of fall-applied solid beef manure with bedding on nitrogen movement and transformations during corn production. The objectives of the research were to measure the N losses (NH3, N2O, and soil water NO3 --N concentration) from the soil for fallapplied N and corn production, then compare the impact of applied N form (solid beef cattle manure with bedding (MB), solid beef cattle manure only (MO), urea only (UO) and no-fertilizer (NF)), in Brookings County, SD. The methods for collecting samples for soil N losses were semi-static open chambers for NH3 flux, static chambers for N2O flux, and suction lysimeters for soil water. The applied N were 130 and 184 kg ha-1 in Year 1 and Year 2, respectively. The studied showed the average (±SE) soil NO3 --N for UO (105 ± 9 kg ha-1) was significantly higher than the remaining treatments; soil NO3 --N was 72 and 65 kg ha-1 for manure treatments MB and MO, respectively. The average (±SE) total soil NO3 --N for Year 1 (83 ± 6 kg ha-1) was significantly higher than Year 2 (67 ± 5 kg ha-1). However, the average total soil NO3 --N at Pre-plant stage was significantly higher than V6 and Postharvest stages in both years. The study results did not show any significant difference in total soil NO3 --N due to interaction of Treatment and Growth Stage. Furthermore, the average NH3 flux, and N2O flux were significantly affected by treatments. The highest N2O flux was produced by the UO (79.0 ± 24.9 μg m-2 h-1) plots, whereas the flux released from MB was 49.0 ± 15.1 μg m-2 h-1 and for MO it was 33.3 ± 10.3 μg m-2 h-1. The N2O flux obtained from UO was significantly higher than NF, while MB and MO-produced N2O fluxes were not significantly different than neither UO nor NF. The highest NH3 flux occurred from the MB treatment, which was 3.4 ± 0.9 g ha-1 h- 1, however this flux was only significantly different than NF. The NH3 fluxes from UO and MO were not significantly different than MB and NF. The average (±SE) N2O and NH3 fluxes for control (NF) were 25 (±8) μg m-2 h-1 and 1.4 (±0.4) g ha-1 h-1, respectively. The average soil water NO3 --N concentration was not significantly different among the treatments (P < 0.05). The average soil water NO3 --N concentration was significantly greater in Year 1 (12.5 ± 2.0 mg L-1) compared to Year 2 (6.5 ± 2.0 mg L-1). Crop N characteristics such as leaf-N and grain-N tended to be different (P < 0.1) among treatments, with a higher N concentration in UO-treated plots. The corn yield was not significantly affected by treatment in Year 1 (the only year measured). The study aids the understanding of soil N losses via various paths and the effect of fall-applied solid manure with or without bedding on soil N losses and N transformations. Overall, the data obtained from our study will be used in model application purposes, which will help to further understand the factors and processes affecting nutrient transformations and losses during corn production with beef cattle manure.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 62-78)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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