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Manure application methods for alfalfa-grass

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The MAMA experiment (Manure Application Methods for Alfalfa-Grass) was designed to evaluate nutrient and pathogen losses with conventional and improved liquid dairy manure management practices for alfalfa-grass production. Observations from MAMA have also been used for parameterization and validation of computer simulation models of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from dairy farms (Gaillard et al., in preparation). The experiment included five treatments: shallow injection of manure, aerator/banded manure (subsurface deposition), banded manure (trailing foot application), broadcast manure, and no manure (i.e. control). The five treatments were replicated three times in a randomized complete block design. This experiment was performed as part of the Dairy CAP, described below.

The experiment was conducted at the Marshfield Research Station of the University of Wisconsin and the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Marshfield, WI (Wood County, Latitude 44.641445, Longitude -90.133526). Soils at the research station are from the Withee soil series, fine-loamy, mixed, superactive, frigid Aquic Glossudalf, with 2% slope. Each of the fifteen experimental plots was approximately 7.3 x 12.8 meters, oriented across slope. A weather station was at the south edge of the research field and centered east-west. A weather station for snow data was located 420 meters south of the field.

The experiment was initiated on May 16, 2013 by planting alfalfa (Medicago sativa) on plots that were in a corn (Zea mays) and soybean (Glycine max) rotation during the previous five years. All plots were planted with cultivar "Nexgrow-6422Q 19," using a 10-foot Brillion forage seeder. Planting rate was 19 kg seed per hectare. Alfalfa forage was harvested by cutting at 3 inches (~8 cm) height. Alfalfa was harvested once in 2013, three times in 2014 and 2015, and four times in 2016. Forage characteristics were measured at the University of Wisconsin Soil and Forage Lab in Marshfield (total P and total K) and at the Marshfield ARS (dry matter, total N and total C)

The manure applied in this experiment was from the dairy herd at the Marshfield Research Station. Cows were fed a diet of 48% dry matter, 17.45% protein, and 72.8% total digestible nutrients. Liquid slurry manure, including feces, urine, and bedding, was collected and stored in a lagoon on the site. Manure was withdrawn from the lagoon, spread on the plots and sampled for analysis all on the same day, once per year shortly after an alfalfa harvest. Manure samples were analyzed at the University of Wisconsin Soil and Forage Lab in Marshfield (NH4-N, total P and total K) and at the Marshfield ARS (pH, dry matter, volatile solids, total N and total C).

GHG fluxes from soil (CO2, CH4, N2O) were measured using static chambers as described in Parkin and Venterea (2010). In addition, ammonia fluxes (NH3) from soil were measured using a dynamic chamber method (Svensson, 1994; Misselbrook and Hansen, 2001). Additional soil chemical and physical characteristics were measured as noted in the data dictionary and other metadata of the MAMA data set, included here.

This experiment was part of “Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Dairy Production Systems of the Great Lakes Region,” also known as the Dairy Coordinated Agricultural Project (Dairy CAP), funded by the United States Department of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (award number 2013-68002-20525). The main goal of the Dairy CAP was to improve understanding of the magnitudes and controlling factors over GHG emissions from dairy production in the Great Lakes region. Using this knowledge, the Dairy CAP has improved life cycle analysis (LCA) of GHG production by Great Lakes dairy farms, developing farm management tools, and conducting extension, education and outreach activities.

Dataset Info

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Sherman, Jessica
Jokela, William
Barford, Carol
Product Type
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Area
POINT (-90.133526 44.641445)
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
M605 Drake Avenue, Stratford, WI 54484
Temporal Coverage
Equipment or Software Used
Intended Use
The MAMA experiment was designed to study the effects of liquid dairy manure application practices, including both conventional and improved methods. Observed effects included soil nutrient dynamics (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) and fluxes of CO2, CH4, N2O and NH3 from soil. Alfalfa yield and quality was also measured. The observations have also been used for parameterization and validation of computer simulation models of GHG emissions from dairy farms (Gaillard et al., in preparation).
Use Limitations
Time series of greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes and soil nutrient contents are notoriously variable over both time and space. Extrapolation and interpolation of these data must be done with caution. Detailed notes and caveats about use of data from individual samples can be found in the data dictionary.
Ag Data Commons
Contact Name
Barford, Carol
Contact Email
Public Access Level
Methods Citation

Hofer, S. 2003.  Determination of Ammonia (Salicylate) in 2M KCl soil extracts by Flow Injection Analysis.  QuikChem Method 12-107-06-2-A. Available by request at techhelp@hach.com.

Knepel, K. 2003. Determination of Nitrate in 2M KCl soil extracts by Flow Injection Analysis. QuikChem Method 12-107-04-1-B. Available by request at techhelp@hach.com.

Peters, J. 2003. Total nitrogen. In Recommended Methods of Manure Analysis, J. Peters, ed. University of Wisconsin Extension Publication A3769, pp. 14-17. https://uwlab.triforce.cals.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2016/02...

Peters, J. B., editor. 2007. Wisconsin Procedures for Soil Testing, Plant Analysis and Feed & Forage Analysis. Soil Science Department, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Extension-Madison. https://datcp.wi.gov/Documents/NMProcedures.pdf

Shreve, B., Thiex, N., Wolf, M. 2006. Dry matter by oven drying for 3 hours at 105 degrees C. National Forage Testing Association Reference Methods, NFTA, Omaha, NE, www.foragetesting.org

Svensson, L., 1994. A new dynamic chamber technique for measuring ammonia emissions from land-spread manure and fertilizers. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B, 44: 35-46.

Misselbrook, T.H., Hansen, M.N. 2001. Field evaluation of the equilibrium concentration technique (JTI method) for measuring ammonia emmission from land spread manure or fertiliser. Atmospheric Environment 35 (2001) 3761-3768.

Parkin, T.B., Venterea, R.T. 2010. Chamber-based trace gas flux measurements. in Sampling Protocols. R.F. Follett, editor. p. 3-1 to 3-39. www.ars.usda.gov/research/GRACEnet

Bouyoucos, G. J. 1962. Hydrometer Method Improved for Making Particle Size Analyses of Soils1. Agron. J. 54:464-465.

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Vadas, Peter
Funding Source(s)
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
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Ag Data Commons Keywords: 
  • Agroecosystems & Environment
  • Agroecosystems & Environment
  • Management
  • Agroecosystems & Environment
  • Plant and animal
  • Plants & Crops
  • Plants & Crops
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Plants & Crops
  • Crop production
  • Plants & Crops
  • Crop production
  • Nutrient Management
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