The relationship between NH3 emissions from a poultry farm and soil NO and N2O fluxes from a downwind forest

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Skiba, U. ; Dick, J. ; Storeton-West, R. ; Lopez-Fernandez, S. ; Woods, C. ; Tang, S. ; vanDijk, N. (2006)

Intensive livestock farms emit large concentrations of NH<sub>3</sub>, most of which is deposited very close to the source. The presence of trees enhances the deposition. Rates to downwind forests can exceed 40 kg N ha<sup>&minus;1</sup> y<sup>&minus;1</sup>. The steep gradient in large NH<sub>3</sub> concentrations of 34.3&plusmn;20.4, 47.6&plusmn;24.9, 21.7&plusmn;16.8 &micro;g NH<sub>3</sub> m<sup>3</sup> at the edge of a forest 15, 30 and 45 m downwind of the farm to near background concentrations within 270 m downwind (1.15&plusmn;0.7 &micro;g NH<sub>3</sub> m<sup>3</sup>) provides an ideal site to study the effect of different rates of atmospheric NH<sub>3</sub> concentrations and inferred deposition on biological and chemical processes under similar environmental conditions. We have investigated the effect of different NH<sub>3</sub> concentrations and implied deposition rates on the flux of NO and N<sub>2</sub>O from soil in a mixed woodland downwind of a large poultry farm (160 000 birds) in Scotland, which has been operating for about 40 years. Measurements were carried out for a 6 month period, with hourly NO flux measurements, daily N<sub>2</sub>O fluxes close to the farm and monthly at all sites, and monthly cumulative wet and dry N deposition. The increased NH<sub>3</sub> and NH<sub>4</sub><sup>+</sup> deposition to the woodland increased emissions of NO and N<sub>2</sub>O and soil available NH<sub>4</sub><sup>+</sup> and NO<sub>3</sub><sup>&minus;</sup> concentrations. Average NO and N<sub>2</sub>O fluxes measured 15, 25 and 45 m downwind of the farm were 111.2&plusmn;41.1, 123.3&plusmn;40.7, 38.3&plusmn;28.8 &micro;g NO-N m<sup>&minus;2</sup> h<sup>&minus;1</sup> and 9.9&plusmn;7.5, 34.3&plusmn;33.3 and 21.2&plusmn;6.1 &micro;g N<sub>2</sub>O-N m<sup>&minus;2</sup> h<sup>&minus;1</sup>, respectively. At the background site 270 m downwind the N<sub>2</sub>O flux was reduced to 1.75&plusmn;2.1 &micro;g N<sub>2</sub>O-N m<sup>&minus;2</sup> h<sup>&minus;1</sup>. NO emissions were significantly influenced by seasonal and daily changes in soil temperature and followed a diurnal pattern with maximum emissions approximately 3 h after noon. For N<sub>2</sub>O no consistent diurnal pattern was observed. Changes in soil moisture content had a less clear effect on the NO and N<sub>2</sub>O flux. In spite of the large NO and N<sub>2</sub>O emissions accounting for &gt;3% of the N deposited to the woodland downwind of the farm, extrapolation to the entire British poultry flock suggests that these NH<sub>3</sub> emissions contribute to less than 0.5% and 0.02%, respectively of the total annual UK NO<sub>x</sub> and N<sub>2</sub>O emissions.
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