Plant and Soil

, Volume 186, Issue 2, pp 265-273

First online:

Effects of urine on soil microbial biomass, methanogenesis, nitrification and denitrification in grassland soils

  • R. D. LovellAffiliated withInstitute of Grassland and Environmental Research
  • , S. C. JarvisAffiliated withInstitute of Grassland and Environmental Research

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Urine was added under controlled conditions to intact turfs taken from long-term permanent pasture on clay loam and sandy loam soils in South West England. Methane exchanges were small (<+/−0.03 μg CH4 m-2 min-1) and overall absorption equalled or exceeded emission in both soils. On the clay loam, wetting with water or urine increased soil microbial biomass C and N contents by about 20% but there was no specific effect of urine. Urine, however, caused an increase in soil respiration of >50% and the average increase was greater for cow's urine (30.8 mg CO2 m-2 min-1) than for an artificial urine (20.1 mg CO2 m-2 min-1). Emissions of nitric and nitrous oxides following urine application were substantial (on average 0.36 μg NO-N and 29 μg N2O-N m-2 min-1) but short lived (<40 days). The high levels of ammonium found in the urine treated soils (>200 mg NH4 +-N kg-1) were nitrified to nitrate over a period of 42 days. Qualitative changes in the soil microbial biomass were evidently not related to biomass size. Relationships between trace gas emissions and soil processes are discussed. ei]Section editor: R Merckx

Key words

denitrification methane nitrification nitrous oxide nitric oxide soil microbial biomass soil respiration urine patches