Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #154027


item Calderon, Francisco
item Mccarty, Gregory
item Reeves Iii, James

Submitted to: Biology and Fertility of Soils
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/26/2005
Publication Date: 3/18/2005
Citation: Calderon, F.J., Mccarty, G.W., Reeves III, J.B. 2005. Analysis of manure and soil nitrogen mineralization during incubation. Biology and Fertility of Soils. 41:328-336.

Interpretive Summary: In this experiment, we show that a significant fraction of manure nitrogen may be lost through denitrification after application to soil. Microbial immobilization also consumes manure N, but this sink is secondary relative to denitrification. The use of mesh bags to enclose the manure allowed us to determine that soil and manure may differ in the N mineralization dynamics even when they are in the same microcosm. For example, nitrate accumulates within the manure, even when nitrate consumption is high in the surrounding soil. This supports the idea that N cycling dynamics in soil are the result of an interplay of spatial-temporal heterogeneity of soil microbiology and soil nutrients.

Technical Abstract: Understanding the N cycling processes that ensue after manuring soil is essential in order to estimate the value of manure as an N fertilizer. A laboratory incubation of manured soil was carried out in order to study N mineralization, gas fluxes, denitrification, and microbial N immobilization after manure application. Four different manures were enclosed in mesh bags to allow for the separate analysis of manure and soil. The soils received 0.15 mg manure-N g-1 soil, and the microcosms were incubated aerobically and sampled throughout a 10 week period. Manure addition resulted in initial NH4-N concentrations of 22.1 to 36.6 mg kg-1 in the microcosms. All manured microcosms had net declines in soil mineral N. Denitrification resulted in the loss of 14.7 to 39.2 % of the added manure N, and the largest N losses occurred in manures with high NH4-N content. Net N immobilization amounted to 6.0 to 8.6 % of the added manure N. While the microcosms as a whole had negative N mineralization, all microcosms had positive net nitrification within the manure bags. Gas fluxes of N2O and CO2 increased in all manured soils relative to the controls. Our results show that measurement of microbial biomass N and denitrification is important to understand the fate of manure N upon soil application.