Abstract Irrigation experiments were conducted using center pivot and big gun equipment to determine losses of nitrogen that occur during sprinkler irrigation. Anaerobic lagoon liquid was irrigated onto bare ground and nitrogen losses were evaluated for different application rates. The pH of the applied lagoon liquid was found to increase during irrigation. TKN losses occurring during sprinkler irrigation using the center pivot were found to range from 14·9% to 43·4%. Of this amount 53·5–100% was accounted for in volumetric loss (evaporation and drift). Ammonia-N losses occurring during sprinkler irrigation (center pivot) were found to range from 13·9% to 37·3%. Volumetric loss of the liquid during sprinkler irrigation accounted for 62·2–100% of the ammonia-N loss. Due to the sampling technique used it was not possible to estimate volumetric losses for the big gun equipment. However, pH and concentration changes in the irrigated liquid were similar to those observed in the center pivot tests.