Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published in J. Environ. Qual. 32:23–32 (2003).


U.S. government work.


Understanding how carbon, nitrogen, and key soil attributes affect gas emissions from soil is crucial for alleviating their undesirable residual effects that can linger for years after termination of manure and compost applications. This study was conducted to evaluate the emission of soil CO2, N2O, and CH4 and soil C and N indicators four years after manure and compost application had stopped. Experimental plots were treated with annual synthetic N fertilizer (FRT), annual and biennial manure (MN1 and MN2, respectively), and compost (CP1 and CP2, respectively) from 1992 to 1995 based on removal of 151 kg N ha-1 yr-1 by continuous corn (Zea mays L.). The control (CTL) plots received no input. After 1995, only the FRT plots received N fertilizer in the spring of 1999. In 1999, the emissions of CO2 were similar between control and other treatments. The average annual carbon input in the CTL and FRT plots were similar to soil CO2–C emission (4.4 and 5.1 Mg C ha-1 yr-1, respectively). Manure and compost resulted in positive C and N balances in the soil four years after application. Fluxes of CH4–C and N2O-N were nearly zero, which indicated that the residual effects of manure and compost four years after application had no negative influence on soil C and N storage and global warming. Residual effects of compost and manure resulted in 20 to 40% higher soil microbial biomass C, 42 to 74% higher potentially mineralizable N, and 0.5 unit higher pH compared with the FRT treatment. Residual effects of manure and compost on CO2, N2O, and CH4 emissions were minimal and their benefits on soil C and N indicators were more favorable than that of N fertilizer.