Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 263–268 | Cite as

Suppression of methane oxidation in aerobic soil by nitrogen fertilizers, nitrification inhibitors, and urease inhibitors

  • K. F. Bronson
  • A. R. Mosier
Original Paper


Concentrations of CH4, a potent greenhouse gas, have been increasing in the atmosphere at the rate of 1% per year. The objective of these laboratory studies was to measure the effect of different forms of inorganic N and various N-transformation inhibitors on CH4 oxidation in soil. NH 4 + oxidation was also measured in the presence of the inhibitors to determine whether they had differential activity with respect to CH4 and NH 4 + oxidation. The addition of NH4Cl at 25 μg N g-1 soil strongly inhibited (78–89%) CH4 oxidation in the surface layer (0–15 cm) of a fine sandy loam and a sandy clay loam (native shortgrass prairie soils). The nitrification inhibitor nitrapyrin (5 μg g-1 soil) inhibited CH4 oxidation as effectively as did NH4Cl in the fine sandy loam (82–89%), but less effectively in the sandy clay loam (52–66%). Acetylene (5 μmol mol-1 in soil headspace) had a strong (76–100%) inhibitory effect on CH4 consumption in both soils. The phosphoroamide (urease inhibitor) N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT) showed strong inhibition of CH4 consumption at 25 μg g-1 soil in the fine sandy loam (83%) in the sandy clay loam (60%), but NH 4 + oxidation inhibition was weak in both soils (13–17%). The discovery that the urease inhibitor NBPT inhibits CH4 oxidation was unexpected, and the mechanism involved is unknown.

Key words

Methane consumption Methanotrophs Urea Ammonium oxidation Differential inhibition 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. F. Bronson
    • 1
  • A. R. Mosier
    • 1
  1. 1.USDA-ARSFort CollinsUSA

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