Short-term effects of aglime on inorganic- and organic-derived CO2 emissions from two acid soils amended with an ammonium-based fertiliser

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Aglime application can promote carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from acid soils. However, the controlling mechanisms are still poorly understood, particularly the role of fertiliser-ammonium oxidation. This study therefore assessed the effects of aglime on soil inorganic C (SIC)– and soil organic C (SOC)–derived CO2 emissions from acid soils amended with ammonium.

Materials and methods

Ammonium at three N rates [0% (A0), 0.005% (A1), and 0.2% (A2) w/w] and labelled aglime (Ca13CO3,13C 5.94% aa) at three rates [0% (L1), 0.067% (L1), and 0.392% (L2) w/w] were applied to two contrasting acid soils (Nariva series, Mollic Fluvaquents; and Piarco series, Typic Kanhaplaquults) and incubated in 1-l media bottles for 23 days. A calcareous soil (Princes Town series, Aquentic Eutrudepts, carbonate δ13C of − 4.79‰) was included as a control that only received ammonium at the three rates.

Results and discussion

The application of ammonium at the A2 rate significantly (p < 0.05) increased cumulative SIC-CO2 emissions by 15.8 and 27.1% in comparison to the A0 rate for the Nariva and Piarco soils, respectively, when they were limed at the L2 rate. The lower rate of ammonium (A1), however, had no effect on these emissions, which suggests that enough acidity may not have been generated at this rate to significantly enhance the release of SIC-CO2. Furthermore, no effect of ammonium rates was observed on SIC-CO2 emissions from the calcareous soil, which refutes the hypothesis that this amendment plays a greater role in regulating these emissions from calcareous soils compared with acid soils. Also, in contradiction to another hypothesis, the aglime-induced priming effect on SOC decomposition was more apparent in the low-C Piarco soil. This effect was also significantly (p < 0.05) greater at the L2 rate (above the lime requirement for Piarco), which demonstrates the negative impact that over-liming could have on the sequestration of C in this soil. Our results also showed that ammonium addition may also help to reduce the magnitude of the aglime-induced priming effect in the Piarco soil when it is not over-limed.


Overall, the findings of this study suggest that ammonium fertiliser broadcast at conventional rates may not serve as a significant regulator of SIC-CO2 emissions from highly to moderately acidic soils amended with aglime. Our findings also indicate a need to consider nitrogen management as an important factor regulating the effects of aglime on SOC-CO2 emissions.

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This research was supported by the School of Graduate Studies and Research (SG&R), UWI, St. Augustine’s grant #CRP.5.MAR16.46 that was awarded to Mr. Bramble and a grant that was award to Dr. Richard Farrell. The authors would like to thank the SG&R, UWI and the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) for awarding scholarships to the first author that allowed him to pursue studies at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine and the University of Saskatchewan respectively. The authors are also grateful for the technical assistance from Frank Krijnen, Darin Richman, and Myles Stocki of the Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan. Special thanks are also extended to the administrative staff of the Department of Food Production, UWI and the Department of Soil Science, U of S.

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Correspondence to De Shorn E. Bramble.

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Bramble, D.S.E., Gouveia, G.A., Ramnarine, R. et al. Short-term effects of aglime on inorganic- and organic-derived CO2 emissions from two acid soils amended with an ammonium-based fertiliser. J Soils Sediments 20, 52–65 (2020).

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  • 13C
  • Priming effects
  • Acid and calcareous soils
  • Aglime
  • Ammonium (NH4 +) fertiliser
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)