Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 2, Issue 1–2, pp 113–119 | Cite as

Gross mineralization and plant N uptake from animal manures under non-N limiting conditions, measured using 15N isotope dilution techniques

  • Rebecca Hood
  • Elvira Bautista
  • Maria Heiling


To utilise wisely the manure resource, a better understanding of the processes that control the breakdown of organic N to inorganic N (mineralization) is required. 15N isotope dilution techniques should allow estimates of plant N uptake and gross mineralization from organic manures under non-N limiting conditions to be made. In natural systems the study of organic nitrogen breakdown to inorganic nitrogen, mineralization, is confounded by the processes of nitrification, nitrate leaching, gaseous N losses and plant N uptake. The 15N isotope dilution approach allows measurement of gross mineralization independently of these processes. Greenhouse experiments were conducted to determine plant N uptake from organic manures under non-N limiting conditions using the soil pre-labelling isotope dilution approach. The soil was pre-labelled with 15N and maize plants were then grown on the control treatments (no organic amendment) or on the manure treatments. The principle is thus that the control crop has a 15N abundance which reflects the 15N status of the soil and the treatment crop has a 15N enrichment diluted by the contribution of mineralized unlabelled manure N. Using this technique, it was estimated that maize plants derived 17 and 34% of their N from sewage sludge and turkey manure, respectively. The soil pre-labelling isotope dilution approach allowed yield-independent estimation of nitrogen derived from manures under non-N limiting conditions. Estimates of gross N mineralization were made to determine the breakdown of manure under field conditions. Results suggested that there was a rapid mineralization of turkey manure N in the initial weeks after application, in the order of 50 kg N ha−1, which tailed off in the following weeks. The technique suggested that the soil used in the study had an extremely low basal mineralization rate, and a high nitrification rate.

gross mineralization pre-labelling manure 15


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barraclough D (1991). The use of mean pool abundances to interpret 15N tracer-experiments. Plant and Soil 131: 89–96.Google Scholar
  2. Chambers & Smith K A (1995) Management of farm manures: economic and environmental considerations. Soil Use Manag. 11: 150–151.Google Scholar
  3. Giller KE, Cadisch G & Palm C (2002) The North South divide! Organic wastes or resources for nutrient management? Agronomie 22: 703–709.Google Scholar
  4. Hart PBS, Rayner JH & Jenkinson DS (1986) Influence of pool substitution on the interpretation of fertilizer experiments with 15N. J. Soil Sci. 37: 389–403.Google Scholar
  5. Hart SC, Stark JM, Davidson EA & Firestone MK (1994). Nitrogen mineralization, immobilization and nitrification. Methods of Soil analysis Microbial and Biochemical Properties. SSSA Book No 5 (pp. 985–1018).Google Scholar
  6. Hatch DJ, Jarvis SC, Parkinson RJ & Lovell RD (2000) Combining field incubation with nitrogen labelling to examine nitrogen transformations in low to high intensity grassland management systems. Biol. and Fertil. Soils 30: 492–499.Google Scholar
  7. Hauck RD & Bremner JM(1976) Use of tracers for soil and fertiliser nitrogen research. Advances in Agronomy.28: 219–266.Google Scholar
  8. He DY, Liao XL, Xing TX, Zhou WJ, Fang YJ & He LH. (1994) The fate of nitrogen from 15N labelled straw and green manure in soil-crop domestic animal systems. Soil Science 158: 65–73.Google Scholar
  9. Hood RC (2002) Plant N uptake from plant and animal organic residues, measured using the soil pre-labelling 15N isotope dilution approach. In: Vanlaauwe B, Diels J, Sanginga N & Merckx R (eds) Integrated Plant Nutrient Management in Sub-Saharan Africa (pp. 123–131.) CABI, Wallingford, UK.Google Scholar
  10. Hood RC (2001) Field estimation of crop N uptake from organic residues using a new approach to the 15N isotope dilution technique. Biol. and Fertil. Soils. 34: 156–161.Google Scholar
  11. Hood R, Merckx R, Jensen ES, Powlson D, Matijevic M & Hardarson G (2000) Estimating crop N uptake from organic residues using a new approach to the 15N isotope dilution technique. Plant and Soil 223: 33–44.Google Scholar
  12. Hood RC, N'Goran K, Aigner M & Hardarson G (1999) A comparison of direct and indirect 15N isotope techniques for estimating crop N uptake from organic residue decomposition. Plant and Soil 208: 259–270.Google Scholar
  13. Jarvis SC & Pain BF (1990) Ammonium volatilization from agricultural land. Proceedings-Feriliser Society298, 35.Google Scholar
  14. Jenkinson DS, Fox RH & Rayner JH (1985) Interactions between fertilizer nitrogen and soil nitrogen-the so called ‘priming’ effect. J. Soil Sci. 36: 425–444.Google Scholar
  15. Jensen ES (1994) Mineralization-immobilization of nitrogen in soil amended with low C:N ratio plant residues with different particle sizes. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 26: 519–521.Google Scholar
  16. Kirkham D & Bartholomew WV (1954) Equations for following nutrient transformation in soil utilizing tracer data. Soil Sci. Soc. of Am. Proc. 18: 33–34.Google Scholar
  17. Mulvaney R (1992) Mass spectrometry. In: Knowles R & Blackburn TH (eds) Nitrogen Isotope Techniques (pp 209–242). Academic Press Inc, San Diego.Google Scholar
  18. Monaghan R (1995) Errors in the estimates of gross rates of nitrogen mineralization due to non-uniform distribution of 15N label. Soil Biol. Biochem 27: 855–859.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Murphy DV, Fillery IRP & Sparling GP (1997) A method to label soil cores with 15NH3gas as a pre-requisite for 15N isotope dilution, and measurement of gross N mineralization. Soil Biol. & Biochem. 35: 1731–1741.Google Scholar
  20. Smaling EMA, Nandwa SM, Jannsen BH (1997) Soil fertility in Africa is at Stake. In Buresh RJ, Sanchez PA & Calhoun F, (eds) Replenishing Soil Fertility in Africa (pp. 47–61).Soil Science Society of America Special Publication No 51.Google Scholar
  21. Sørensen P (2001) Short term nitrogen transformations in soil amended with animal manure. Soil Biology & Biochemistry33: 1211–1216.Google Scholar
  22. Sørensen P. & Jensen ES (1991) Sequential diffusion of ammonium and nitrate from soil extracts to a poluytetrafluoroethylelne trap for 15N diffusion. Anal. Chim. Acta 252: 201–203.Google Scholar
  23. Sørensen P & Jensen ES (1998) The use of 15N labelling to study the turnover and utilization of ruminant manure N. Biol. and Fertil. Soils 28:56–63Google Scholar
  24. Sørensen P, Jensen ES & Neilsen NE (1994) Labelling of animal manure nitrogen with 15N. Plant and Soil 162: 31–37.Google Scholar
  25. Videla CC & Hood R (2002) Gross mineralization from plant residues using cross-labelling. In: Nuclear Techniques in Integrated Plant Nutrient, Water and Soil Management. Proceedings of an International Symposium, 16–20 October 2000, Vienna, Austria. IAEA-C&S-11 and IAEA-C&S-11/C (pp. 400–401).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FAO/IAEA Agriculture and Biotechnology LaboratorySoil Science UnitSeibersdorfAustria
  2. 2.Soil Research Division, SRDC Bldg.Bureau of Soils and Water ManagementQuezon CityPhilippines

Personalised recommendations