Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 89–100 | Cite as

Nitrogen Leaching from 15N Labelled Cow Urine and Dung Applied to Grassland on a Sandy Soil

  • Christine Wachendorf
  • Friedhelm Taube
  • Michael Wachendorf


Nitrogen (N) leaching under grazed pastures can be very high directly under urine spots. The amount of N which is returned by one excretion of urine or dung can locally exceed 1000 kg ha−1 a−1 which is far more than the uptake by surrounding plants during one grazing period. We therefore quantified the contribution of N deriving from urine and dung to the total N leaching under urine and dung patches. Dung N and urine N was separately sampled from a cow feed with 15N labelled grassilage, and were amended on lysimeters in October 2000 and October 2001. Lysimeters (350 mm diameter and 800 mm length) were filled with sand, and an intact grass sod from a pasture, 4 lysimeter each were amended with the 15N labelled dung and urine; 4 lysimeters without an application of dung or urine served as control. During 11 months after dung and urine amendment the amount of leachate was monitored and leachate was analysed for nitrate, ammonium and total N. 15N in these fractions was measured. Dung and urine applications of 1052 and 1030 kg N ha−1 in autumn increased N leaching. Leaching loss of nitrate and dissolved organic N deriving from dung was only 37 kg N ha−1 in both years, whereas under urine patches 447 kg nitrate-N ha−1, 108 kg N ha−1 ammonia-N and 53 kg ha−1 dissolved organic N leached on average of both experimental years. N not deriving from dung and urine exceeded the leached N under the control by about 36 and 136 kg ha−1 on average of both years, suggesting the contribution of different priming processes.


15N labelling Ammonium Dissolved organic nitrogen Dung Nitrate Urine 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Anonyma 1991. VDLUFA Methodenbuch Band 1. Die Untersuchung von Böden. 4. AuflageDarmstadtGermany.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ball, P.R., Keeney, D.R., Theobald, P.W., Nes, P. 1979Nitrogen balance in urine affected areas of New Zealand pasturesAgron. J.71309314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ball, P.R., Ryden, J.C. 1984Nitrogen relationships in intensively managed temperate grasslandsPlant Soil762333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Barrow, N.J. 1961Mineralization of nitrogen and sulphur from sheep faecesAust. J. Agric. Res.12644650Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Benke, M., Kornher, A., Taube, F. 1992Nitrate leaching from cut and grazed swards influenced by nitrogen fertilizationProceedings of the 14th General Meeting of the European Grassland FederationLahtiFinland184188Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cabrera, M.L., Beare, M.H. 1993Alkaline persulfate oxidation for determining total nitrogen in microbial biomass extractsSoil Sci. Soc. Am. J.5710071012Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Clough, T.J., Ledgard, S.F., Sprosen, M.S., Kear, M.J. 1998Fate of 15N labelled urine on four soil typesPlant Soil199195203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cuttle, S.P., Bourne, P.C. 1993Uptake and leaching of nitrogen from artificial urine applied on grassland on different dates during the growing seasonPlant Soil1507786CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Di, H.J., Cameron, K.C. 2002Nitrate leaching and pasture production from different nitrogen sources on shallow stoney soil under flood irrigated pastureAust. J. Soil Res.40317334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Fillery, I.R., McInnes, K.J. 1992Components of the fertilizer nitrogen balance for wheat production on duplex soilsAust. J. Experiment. Agric.32887899Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Goerges, T., Dittert, K. 1998Improved diffusion technique for 15N:14N analysis of ammonium and nitrate from aqueous samples by stable isotope spectrometryComm. Soil Sci. Plant Anal.29361368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hatch, D.J., Lovell, R.D., Antil, R.S., Jarvis, S.C., Owen, P.M. 2000Nitrogen mineralization and microbial activity in permanent pastures amended with nitrogen fertilizer or dungBiol. Fertil. Soils.30288293Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Holmes, W. 1968The use of nitrogen in the management of␣pasture for cattleHerbage Abstracts38265277Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jones, D.L., Shannon, D., Murphy, D.V., Farrar, J. 2004Role of dissolved organic nitrogen in soil N cycling in grassland soilsSoil Biol. Biochem.36749756CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Keeney, D.R., Nelson, D.W. 1982Nitrogen inorganic formsPage, A.L. eds. Methods of Soil Analysis, Part 2Am. Soc. Agronomy MadisonWisconsin, USA643698Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Korsaeth, A., Bakken, L., Riley, H. 2003Nitrogen dynamics of grass as affected by N input regimes, soil texture and climate: lysimeter measurements and simulationsNutr. Cycl. Agroecosyst.66181199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kyvsgaard, P., Sørensen, P., Møller, E., Magid, J. 2000Nitrogen mineralization from sheep faeces can be predicted from the apparent digestibility of the feedNutr. Cycl. Agroecosyst.57207214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lampe, C. 2004Effect of nitrogen fertiliser and animal experiments on N2O emissions from permanent grassland using 15N-labellingUniversity of KielGermanyPh.D. thesisGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ledgard, S.F., Steele, K.W., Feyter, C. 1988The influence of time of application on the fate of 15N-labelled urea applied to diary pastureNew Zeal. J. Agric. Res.318791Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Loiseau, P., Carrère, P., Lafarge, M., Delpy, R., Dublanchet, J. 2001Effect of soil-N and urine-N on nitrate leaching under pure grass, pure clover and mixed grass/clover swardsEur. J. Agron.14113121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Monaghan, R.M., Barraclough, D. 1992Some chemical and physical factors affecting the rate and dynamics of nitrification in urine-affected soilPlant Soil1431118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Oȁ9Connor, K.F. 1974Nitrogen in agrobiosystems and is environmental significanceNew Zeal. Agric. Sci.8137148Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    SAS Institute 1995. User Guide. Release 6.11. SAS InstituteCary, NC, USA.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Shand, C.A., Williams, B.L., Smith, S., Young, M.E. 2000Temporal changes in C, P and N concentrations in soil solution following application of synthetic sheep urine to soil under grassPlant Soil222113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Siemens, J., Kaupenjohann, M. 2002Contribution of dissolved organic nitrogen to N leaching from four German agricultural soilsJ. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci.165675681CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Sørensen, P., Jensen, E.S., Nielsen, N.E. 1994aLabelling of animal manure with 15NPlant Soil1623137Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Sørensen, P., Jensen, E.S., Nielsen, N.E. 1994bThe fate of 15N-labelled organic nitrogen in sheep manure applied to soils of different texture under field conditionsPlant Soil1623947Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Sørensen, P., Jensen, E.S. 1995Mineralization and immobilization and plant uptake of nitrogenPlant Soil173283291Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Stout, W.L. 2003Effect of urine volume on nitrate leaching in the northeast USANutr. cycl. Agroecosyst.67197203Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Takahashi, S., Ueno, H., Yamamuro, S. 2004Comparison of nitrogen mineralization from 15N-labeled organic amendments under flooded and upland conditionsPlant Soil259307314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Thompson, R.B., Fillery, I.R.P. 1997Transformation in soil and turnover to wheat of nitrogen from components of grazed pasture in the south of Western AustraliaAust. J. Agric. Res.4810331047Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Trott H.L. 2003.Medium-term effects of defoliation system and N intensity on performance and N balances of permanent grassland. Ph.D. thesis, University of Kiel, Germany.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Vinther, F.P. 1998Biological nitrogen fixation in grass-clover affected by animal excretaPlant Soil203207215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Wachendorf, M., Büchter, M., Trott, H., Taube, F. 2004Performance and environmental effects of forage production on sandy soils. II. Impact of defoliation system and nitrogen input on nitrate leaching lossesGrass Forage Sci.595668Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Watson, C.J., Jordan, C., Lennox, S.D., Smith, R.V., Steen, R.W.J. 2000Inorganic nitrogen in drainage water from grazed grassland in Northern IrelandJ. Environ. Qual.29225232Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Williams, B.L., Shand, C.A., Sellers, S., Young, M.E. 1999Impact of synthetic sheep urine on N and P in two pastures in the Scottish uplandsPlant Soil.21493103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Whitehead, D.C. 1995Grassland NitrogenCAB internationalWallingfordGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Whitehead, D.C., Bristow, A.W. 1990Transformations of nitrogen following the application of 15N-labelled cattle urine to an established grass swardJ. Appl. Ecol.27667678Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Wachendorf
    • 1
  • Friedhelm Taube
    • 2
  • Michael Wachendorf
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Soil ScienceUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Crop Science and Plant Breeding – Grass and Forage Science/Organic AgricultureChristian-Albrechts-UniversityGermany

Personalised recommendations