Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 323-328

First online:

Denitrification with and without maize plants (Zea mays L.) under irrigated field conditions

  • T. MahmoodAffiliated withSoil Biology Division, Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology, PO Box 128, Faisalabad, Pakistan
  • , R. AliAffiliated withSoil Biology Division, Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology, PO Box 128, Faisalabad, Pakistan
  • , K. A. MalikAffiliated withNational Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, PO Box 577, Faisalabad, Pakistan
  • , S. R. A. ShamsiAffiliated withDepartment of Botany, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

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The study was conducted under irrigated field conditions to examine the effect of maize plants on denitrification. Both planted and unplanted field plots received 150kgNha–1 as urea. In a third treatment, which was also planted and received urea at 150kgNha–1, the soil nitrate N content was brought up to equal to that in the unplanted plots by applying additional doses of N as calcium nitrate. Soil cores were collected 24 and 72h after irrigation and the denitrification rate was measured by the acetylene inhibition method. Nitrate-N content, aerobically mineralizable C, microbial biomass carrying capacity and denitrification potential were also studied on field-moist soil. Maize plants grown under field conditions always had the potential to increase denitrification in conditions of both high and low water-filled porosity. When nitrate-N content of the planted soil decreased due to plant uptake, denitrification was reduced in the planted soils. However, when nitrate-N uptake by plants was compensated through additional doses of nitrate fertilizer, denitrification was always higher in planted than unplanted soil. The stimulatory effect of plants on denitrification was observed at both high and low soil nitrate-N concentrations, though it was more pronounced at high nitrate-N levels. The effect of plants on denitrification and related parameters was confined to the root zone.

Key words Denitrification Denitrification potential Irrigated field Mineralizable carbon Effect of maize plants