Plant and Soil

, Volume 228, Issue 1, pp 73–82 | Cite as

Disproportionately high N-mineralisation rates from green manures at low temperatures – implications for modeling and management in cool temperate agro-ecosystems

  • Jakob Magid
  • Ole Henriksen
  • Kristian Thorup-Kristensen
  • Torsten Mueller


We examined the decomposition of Medicago lupulina, Melilotus alba and Poa pratensis at 3, 9, and 25 °C during 4 weeks. There was a strong temperature effect on the rate of CO2 evolution, and thus the extent of energy exhaustion from the added substrates. However, there was no concomitant retardation of N mineralisation at low temperatures. In the analysis of variance of mineralized N the residue type gave a 10 times larger contribution to the regression than the temperature (T), whereas for CO2 evolution residue type and temperature were equally important contributors. This indicates that although the temperature has a statistically significant effect on N-mineralisation it is substantially less than compared with the effect on carbon mineralisation in the materials examined. The retardation of carbon mineralisation was least strong in Melilotus alba that had a relatively low cellulose content, and a higher content of low molecular compounds. Though more research will be necessary to consolidate and explain this phenomena, it is likely that an important factor is a decrease in the bioavailability of C-rich polymers at low temperatures, and thus a preferential utilization of N-rich low molecular substances. Nitrification was not effectively deterred at 3 °C. Thus, in terms of management, it is pertinent to reconsider the timing of green manure and catch crop incorporation in cool temperate climate regions, since the rapid release of nitrogen, coupled with the relatively undeterred nitrification may result in a high N leaching risk by early incorporation, but a low risk for N immobilization at late incorporation, if N rich residues are used.

carbon mineralisation CO2 respiration green manure N-mineralisation nitrification temperature 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jakob Magid
    • 1
  • Ole Henriksen
    • 1
  • Kristian Thorup-Kristensen
    • 2
  • Torsten Mueller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Sciences, KVLPlant Nutrition and Soil Fertility LaboratoryFrederiksberg CDenmark
  2. 2.Research Center ÅrslevÅrslevDenmark

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