Plant and Soil

, Volume 184, Issue 1, pp 1–10

Denitrification in the top and sub soil of grassland on peat soils

  • J. G. Koops
  • O. Oenema
  • M. L. van Beusichem
Article

Abstract

Denitrification is an important process in the nitrogen (N) balance of intensively managed grassland, especially on poorly drained peat soils. Aim of this study was to quantify the N loss through denitrification in the top and sub soil of grassland on peat soils. Sampling took place at 2 sites with both control (0 N) and N fertilised (+ N) treatments. Main difference between the sites was the ground water level. Denitrification was measured on a weekly basis for 2 years with a soil core incubation technique using acetylene (C2H2) inhibition. Soil cores were taken from the top soil (0–20 cm depth) and the sub soil (20–40 cm depth) and incubated in containers for 24 hours. The denitrification rate was calculated from the nitrous oxide production between 4 and 24 hours of incubation. Denitrification capacities of the soils and the soil layers were also determined.

The top soil was the major layer for denitrification with losses ranging from 9 to 26 kg N ha−1 yr−1 from the O N treatment. Losses from the top soil of the + N treatment ranged from 13 to 49 kg N ha−1 yr−1. The sub soil contributed, on average, 20% of the total denitrification losses from the 0–40 layer. Losses from the 0–40 cm layer were 2 times higher on the + N treatment than on the O N treatment and totalled up to 70 kg N ha−1 yr−1. Significant correlation coefficients were found between denitrification activity on the one hand, and ground water level, water filled pore space and nitrate content on the other, in the top soil but not in the sub soil. The denitrification capacity experiment showed that the availability of easily decomposable organic carbon was an important limiting factor for the denitrification activity in the sub soil of these peat soils.

Key words

denitrification grassland N losses peat sub soil top soil 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Aulakh, M S, Doran, J W and Mosier, A R 1991 Field evaluation of four methods for measuring denitrification. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 55, 1332–1338.Google Scholar
  2. Beuving J 1984 Vocht- en doorlatendheidkarakteristieken, dichtheid en samenstelling van bodemprofielen in zand-, zavel-, klei- en veengronden. ICW rapport 10. ICW, Wageningen, the Netherlands (In Dutch).Google Scholar
  3. Christensen, J 1990 Optical filters and their use with the type 1302 and type 1306 photoacoustic gas monitors. Technical Review 2–1990. Brüel and Kjær, Nærum, Denmark. 50 p.Google Scholar
  4. Christensen, S, Simkins, S and Tiedje, J M 1990 Spatial variation in denitrification: Dependency of activity centres on the soil environment. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 54, 1608–1613.Google Scholar
  5. De, Klein, C A M and Van, Logtestijn, R S P 1994 Denitrification in the top soil of managed grassland in the Netherlands in relation to soil type and fertiliser level. Plant and Soil 163, 33–44.Google Scholar
  6. Garrett, M K, Watson, C J, Jordan, C, Steen, R W J and Smith, R V 1992 The nitrogen economy of grazed grassland. Proc. Fert. Soc. 326, 32.Google Scholar
  7. Houba, V J G, Novozamsky, I and Van der, Lee, J J 1989 Some aspects of determinations of nitrogen fractions in soil extracts. VDLUFA-Schriftenr. 30, 305–312.Google Scholar
  8. Jarvis, S C, Barraclough, D, Williams, J and Rook, A J 1991 Patterns of denitrification loss from grazed grassland: Effect of N fertiliser inputs at different sites. Plant and Soil 131, 77–88.Google Scholar
  9. Jarvis, S C, Hatch, D J, Pain, B F and Klarenbeek, J V 1994 Denitrification and the evolution of nitrous oxide after the application of cattle slurry to a peat soil. Plant and Soil 166, 231–241.Google Scholar
  10. Jarvis, S C and Hatch, D J 1994 Potential for denitrification at depths below long-term grass swards. Soil Biol. Biochem. 26, 1629–1636.Google Scholar
  11. Jörgensen, R G and Richter, G M 1992 Composition of carbon fractions and potential denitrification in drained peat soils. J. Soil Sci. 43, 347–358.Google Scholar
  12. Mahli, S S, Nyborg, M and Solberg, E D 1990 Potential for nitrate-N loss in central Alberta soils. Fert. Res. 25, 175–178.Google Scholar
  13. Lind, A M and Eiland, F 1989 Microbiological characterization and nitrate reduction in subsurface soils. Biol. Fert. Soils 8, 197–203.Google Scholar
  14. Parkin, T B 1993 Spatial variability of microbial processes in soil-A review. J. Environ. Qual. 22, 409–419.Google Scholar
  15. Ryden, J C 1984 Gaseous losses of nitrogen from grassland, In Nitrogen Fluxes in Intensive Grassland Systems. Eds. H G, van der, Meer, J C, Ryden and G C, Ennik. pp 59–73. Martinus Nijhof Publishers, Dordrecht, the Netherlands.Google Scholar
  16. Ryden, J C, Skinner, J H and Nixon, D J 1987 Soil core system for the field measurement of denitrification using acetylene-inhibition. Soil Biol. Biochem. 19, 753–757.Google Scholar
  17. Tiedje, J M 1982 Denitrification. In Methods of Soil Analysis, Part 2. Chemical and Microbial Properties, Agronomy 9, 2 ed. Ed. A L, Page. pp 1011–1026. ASA/SSSA, Madison, USA.Google Scholar
  18. Yeomans, J C, Bremner, J M and McCarty 1992 Denitrification capacity and denitrification potential of subsurface soils. Commun. Soil Sci. Plant Anal. 23, 919–927.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. G. Koops
    • 1
  • O. Oenema
    • 1
  • M. L. van Beusichem
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Soil Science and Plant NutritionWageningen Agricultural UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations