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Leaching of nitrate and phosphorus after autumn and spring application of separated solid animal manures to winter wheat


P. Sørensen. E-mail:


Animal slurry can be separated into solid and liquid manure fractions to facilitate the transport of nutrients from livestock farms. In Denmark, untreated slurry is normally applied in spring whereas the solid fraction may be applied in autumn, causing increased risk of nitrate and phosphorus (P) leaching. We studied the leaching of nitrate and P in lysimeters with winter wheat crops (Triticum aestivum L.) after autumn incorporation versus spring surface application of solid manure fractions, and we compared also spring applications of mineral N fertilizer and pig slurry. Leaching was compared on a loamy sand and a sandy loam soil. The leaching experiment lasted for 2 yr, and the whole experiment was replicated twice. Nitrate leaching was generally low (19–34 kg N/ha) after spring applications of mineral fertilizer and manures. Nitrate leaching increased significantly after autumn application of the solid manures, and the extra nitrate leached was equivalent to 23–35% of total manure N and corresponded to the ammonium content of the manures. After spring application of solid manures and pig slurry, only a slight rise in N leaching was observed during the following autumn/winter (<5% of total manure N). Total P leaching was 40–165 g P/ha/yr, and the application of solid manure in autumn did not increase P leaching. The nitrogen fertilizer replacement value of solid manure N was similar after autumn and spring application (17–32% of total N). We conclude that from an environmental perspective, solid manure fractions should not be applied to winter wheat on sandy and sandy loam soils under humid North European conditions.