Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 340–348 | Cite as

Denitrification and nitrous oxide to nitrous oxide plus dinitrogen ratios in the soil profile under three tillage systems

  • Abdirashid A. Elmi
  • Chandra Madramootoo
  • Chantal Hamel
  • Aiguo Liu
Original Paper

Abstract

There is a growing interest in the adoption of conservation tillage systems [no-till (NT) and reduced tillage (RT)] as alternatives to conventional tillage (CT) systems. A 2-year study was conducted to investigate possible environmental consequences of three tillage systems on a 2.4-ha field located at Macdonald Research Farm, McGill University, Montreal. The soil was a sandy loam (0.5 m depth) underlain by a clay layer. Treatments consisted of a factorial combination of CT, RT, and NT with the presence or absence of crop residue. Soil NO3--N concentrations tended to be lower in RT than NT and CT tillage treatments. Denitrification and N2O emissions were similar among tillage systems. Contrary to the popular assumption that denitrification is limited to the uppermost soil layer (0–0.15 m), large rates of N2O production were measured in the subsurface (0.15–0.45 m) soil, suggesting that a significant portion of produced N2O may be missed if only soil surface gas flux measurements are made. The N2O mole fraction (N2O:N2O+N2) was higher in the drier season of 1999 under CT than in 2000, with the ratio occasionally exceeding 1.0 in some soil layers. Dissolved organic C concentrations remained high in all soil depths sampled, but were not affected by tillage system.

Keywords

Denitrification Nitrous oxide production Mole fraction Soil profile 

References

  1. Becker KW, Hoper H, Meyer B (1990) Rates of denitrification under field conditions as indicated by acetylene inhibition technique. P25–30 In: Proceedings of the International Workshop on Denitrification in Soil, Rhizophere and Aquifer, 17–19 March 1989Google Scholar
  2. Bergsma TT, Robertson GP, Ostrom NE (2002) Influence of soil moisture and land use history on denitrification end-products. J Environ Qual 31:711–717PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Brye KR, Norman JM, Bundy LG, Gower ST (2001) Nitrogen and carbon leaching in agroecosystems and their role in denitrification potential. J Environ Qual 30:58–70PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Burgess MS (2000) Crop residue decomposition and nitrogen dynamics in corn under three tillage systems. PhD thesis. McGill University, Montreal, QuebecGoogle Scholar
  5. Burton DL, Beauchamp EG (1994) Profile soil nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide concentrations in a soil subject to freezing. Soil Sci Soc Am J 58:115–122Google Scholar
  6. Burton DL, Bergstrom DW, Covert JA, Wagner-Riddle C, Beauchamp EG (1997) Three methods to estimate N2O fluxes as impacted by agricultural management. Can J Soil Sci 77:125–134Google Scholar
  7. Cates RL, Keeney DR (1987) Nitrous oxide production throughout the year from fertilized and manured maize fields. J Environ Qual 16:443–447Google Scholar
  8. Fan MX, MacKenzie AF, Abbott M. Cadrin F (1997) Denitrification estimates in monoculture and rotation corn as influenced by tillage and nitrogen fertilizer. Can J Soil Sci 77:389–396Google Scholar
  9. Gambrell RP, Gilliam JW, Weed SB (1975) Denitrification in subsoils of the North Carolina coastal plain as affected soil drainage. J Environ Qual 4:311–316Google Scholar
  10. Granli T, Bøckman O (1994) Nitrous oxide from agriculture. Norw J Agric Sci [Suppl] 12Google Scholar
  11. Hussain I, Olso KR, Ebelhar SA (1999) Long-term tillage effects on soil chemical properties and organic matter fractions. Soil Sci Soc Am J 63:1335–1341Google Scholar
  12. Kanwar RS, Coluin TS, Karlen DL (1997) Ridge, moldboard, chisel, and no-till effects on tile water quality beneath two cropping systems. J Prod Agric 10:227–234Google Scholar
  13. Keeney DR, Nelson DW (1982) Nitrogen: inorganic forms. In: Page AL (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Chemical and microbiological properties. [Agronomy series no. 9(2)] ASA, SSSA, Madison, Wis., pp 643–709Google Scholar
  14. Li X, Inubushi K, Sakamato K (2002) Nitrous oxide concentrations in an Andisol profile and emissions to the atmosphere as influenced by the application of nitrogen fertilizers and manure. Biol Fertil Soils 35:108–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lindwall CW, Anderson DT (1981) Agronomic evaluations of minimum tillage systems for summerfallow in southern Alberta. Can J Plant Sci 61:247–253Google Scholar
  16. MacKenzie AF, Fan MX, Cardin F (1998) Nitrous oxide emission in three years as affected by tillage, corn-soybean-alfalfa rotations, and nitrogen fertilization. J Environ Qual 27:698–703Google Scholar
  17. Martel YA, MacKenzie AF (1980) Long-term effects of cultivation and land use on soil quality in Quebec. Can J Soil Sci 60:411–420Google Scholar
  18. McCarty GW, Bremner JM (1992) Availability of organic carbon for denitrification of nitrate in subsoils. Biol Fertil Soils 14:219–222Google Scholar
  19. Mummey DL, Smith JL, Bluhlm G (1998) Assessment of alternative soil management practices on N2O emission from US agriculture. Agric Ecosyst Environ 70:79–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Obenhuber DC, Lowrance R (1991) Reduction of nitrate in aquifer microcosm by carbon additions. J Environ Qual 20:255–258Google Scholar
  21. Parkin TB, Meisinger JJ (1989) Denitrification below the crop rooting zone as influenced by surface tillage. J Environ Qual 18:12–16Google Scholar
  22. Randall GW, Iragavarapu TK (1995) Impact of long-term tillage systems for continuous corn on nitrate leaching to tile drainage. J Environ Qual 24:360–366Google Scholar
  23. Rice CW, Smith MS (1982) Denitrification in no-till and plowed soil. Soil Sci Soc Am J 46:1168–1173Google Scholar
  24. Robertson, GP, Paul EA, Harwood RR (2000) Greenhouse gases in intensive agriculture: contributions of individual gases to the radiative forcing of the atmosphere. Science 289:1922–1925CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Sahrawat KL, Keeney DR (1986) Nitrous oxide emission from soil Adv Soil Sci 4:103–148Google Scholar
  26. Smith RA, Alexander RB, Wolman MG (1987) Water quality trends in the nation's rivers. Science 235:1607–1615Google Scholar
  27. Sotomayor D, Rice CW (1996) Denitrification in soil profiles beneath grassland and cultivated soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 60:1822–1828Google Scholar
  28. Staley TE, Caskey WW, Boyer DG (1990) Soil denitrification and nitrification potentials during the growing season relative to tillage. Soil Sci Soc Am J 54:1602–1608Google Scholar
  29. Starr RC, Gillham RW (1993) Denitrification and carbon availability in two aquifers. Groundwater 31:934–937Google Scholar
  30. Uri N D (1999) Factors affecting the use of conservation tillage in the United States. Water Air Soil Pollut 116:621–638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Webster EA, Hopkins DW (1996) Contributions from different microbial process to N2O emission from soil under different moisture regimes. Biol Fertil Soils 22:331–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Weier KL, Doran JW, Power JF, Walters DT (1993) Denitrification and the dintrogen/nitrous oxide ratio as affected by soil water, available carbon, and nitrate. Soil Sci Soc Am J 57:66–72Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abdirashid A. Elmi
    • 1
  • Chandra Madramootoo
    • 2
  • Chantal Hamel
    • 3
  • Aiguo Liu
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of EngineeringNova Scotia Agricultural CollegeTruroCanada
  2. 2.Brace Center for Water Resources ManagementMcGill UniversitySte.-Anne-de-BellevueCanada
  3. 3.Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research CenterSwift CurrentCanada
  4. 4.Department of Natural Resource SciencesMcGill UniversitySte-Anne-de-BellevueCanada

Personalised recommendations