Scarcely a century ago, Gayon and Dupetit (1886) observed that upon addition of nitrate and nitrite to soil, both anions were rapidly converted to gaseous forms of nitrogen, namely N2 and N2O. The biological nature of the process was noted because soil exposed to boiling or chloroform vapors was inactive. Considerable fear was raised by Wagner (1895) that the nitrogen fertility status of the soil would be depleted by the addition of manure. He assumed incorrectly that manure was the sole source of denitrifying bacteria, and he suggested that manure be treated with sulfuric acid to destroy those potentially harmful bacteria. Deherain’s (1897) astute observation that denitrification effected by indigenous soil bacteria was a normal part of the nitrogen cycle led him to recommend that nitrates and manure not be added at the same time because manure provided an available energy source for reducing both O2 and NO3 , with the latter being converted to N2. Excellent management recommendations for minimizing N losses were thus advanced by Deherain’s awareness of basic microbiological principles.


Nitrous Oxide Nitrogen Oxide JUNE JULY August Aerobic Zone Nitrosomonas Europaea 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis D. Focht
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Soil & Environmental SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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