COLUMBIA, Mo. U.S. agricultural practices create 58 percent of nitrous oxide in the world, which is the third most prevalent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Scientists believe nitrous oxide contributes to global warming about 300 times more than carbon dioxide. New practices and products have been introduced to address this issue, but farmers do not have the time or profit margins to experiment with ideas that may ultimately hurt the "bottom line." Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found methods to help farmers reduce those emissions while also increasing corn grain production.
At the University of Missouri Greenley Research Center in northeast Missouri, Kelly Nelson, a research agronomist and associate professor in the MU Division of Plant Sciences, monitored fields of poorly drained claypan soil that were planted with corn after soybean. One field was "strip tilled" with nitrogen fertilizer placed in a band in the soil, while another field was left untilled with a surface application of nitrogen fertilizer. The research team found that strip tillage and banded fertilizer significantly reduced the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per bushel of corn grain production, when compared to that of surface applied no-till treatments.
Strip tillage is the practice of tilling a field in strips up to a foot wide and eight to nine inches deep, rather than tilling the entire field, so that crop residues can be left on the surface of most of the field. By planting corn into those strips, and adding fertilizer during the process, farmers can use less energy, reduce soil erosion and conserve soil moisture in a large area of the field. Additionally, the nitrogen stays deep in the soil, where it less susceptible to environmental loss.
"This tells us that more efficient fertilizer use is needed to maintain productivity and profitability," said Nelson. "We saw grain yields increase, and this is important when it comes to nitrous o
|Contact: Steven Adams|
University of Missouri-Columbia