Subsoil 15N-N2O concentrations in a sandy soil profile after application of 15N-fertilizer

J.W. van Groenigen, P.J. Georgius, C. van Kessel, E.W.J. Hummelink, G.L. Velthof, K.B. Zwart

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Abstract

Studies on emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) from agricultural soils mostly focus on fluxes between the soil and the atmosphere or are limited to the atmosphere in the topsoil. However, in soils with shallow water tables, significant N2O formation may occur closer to the groundwater. The aims of this study were (i) to determine the importance of subsoil N2O formation in a sandy soil; and (ii) to obtain a quantitative insight in the contribution of subsoil N2O to the overall losses of N2O to the environment. We applied 15N labeled fertilizer at a rate of 5.22 kg 15N ha−1; 50% as Ca(NO3)2 and 50% as NH4Cl, on a mesic typic Haplaquod seeded with potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.), and traced soil N2O concentrations and fluxes over a one-year period. Throughout the year, total N2O and the amount of 15N recovered in soil N2O were highest in the subsoil, with a maximum concentration at 48 cm depth in mid-February of 19900 μl m−3 and 24 μg 15N m−3, respectively. The maximum concentration coincided with the highest water-filled pore space of 71%. The cumulative flux of N2O was 446 g N2O-N ha−1, the recovery of 15N in this flux was 0.06%. During the summer, maximum fluxes followed high soil N2O concentrations. During winter, no such relation was found. We concluded that the formation of N2O was the highest in the subsoil, largely controlled by water-filled pore space rather than NO 3 − concentration or temperature. Although high subsoil N2O concentrations did not lead to high surface fluxes of N2O in the winter, artificial draining may lead to high indirect N2O emissions through supersaturated drainage water.
Studies on emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) from agricultural soils mostly focus on fluxes between the soil and the atmosphere or are limited to the atmosphere in the topsoil. However, in soils with shallow water tables, significant N2O formation may occur closer to the groundwater. The aims of this study were (i) to determine the importance of subsoil N2O formation in a sandy soil; and (ii) to obtain a quantitative insight in the contribution of subsoil N2O to the overall losses of N2O to the environment. We applied N-15 labeled fertilizer at a rate of 5.22 kg N-15 ha(-1); 50% as Ca(NO3)(2) and 50% as NH4Cl, on a mesic typic Haplaquod seeded with potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.), and traced soil N2O concentrations and fluxes over a one-year period. Throughout the year, total N2O and the amount of N-15 recovered in soil N2O were highest in the subsoil, with a maximum concentration at 48 cm depth in mid-February of 19900 mu l m(-3) and 24 mu g N-15 m(-3), respectively. The maximum concentration coincided with the highest water-filled pore space of 71%. The cumulative flux of N2O was 446 g N2O-N ha(-1), the recovery of N-15 in this flux was 0.06%. During the summer, maximum fluxes followed high soil N2O concentrations. During winter, no such relation was found. We concluded that the formation of N2O was the highest in the subsoil, largely controlled by water-filled pore space rather than NO3- concentration or temperature. Although high subsoil N2O concentrations did not lead to high surface fluxes of N2O in the winter, artificial draining may lead to high indirect N2O emissions through supersaturated drainage water.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-25
JournalNutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems
Volume72
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Keywords

  • nitrous oxide
  • concentration
  • nitrogen fertilizers
  • subsoil
  • sandy soils
  • nitrous-oxide emissions
  • global n2o budget
  • field measurement
  • biological production
  • arable soils
  • denitrification
  • fluxes
  • netherlands
  • grassland
  • rates

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