Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #316092

Research Project: INCREASING SUSTAINABILITY AND MITIGATING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS OF FOOD AND BIOFUEL PRODUCTION SYSTEMS OF THE UPPER MIDWEST U.S.

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: Ammonium sorption and ammonia inhibition of nitrite-oxidizing bacteria explain contrasting soil N2O production

Author
item Venterea, Rodney - Rod
item CLOUGH, TIMOTHY - Lincoln University - New Zealand
item COULTER, JEFFREY - University Of Minnesota
item BREUILLIN-SESSOMS, FLORENCE - University Of Minnesota

Submitted to: Scientific Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/22/2015
Publication Date: 7/16/2015
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/61110
Citation: Venterea, R.T., Clough, T., Coulter, J., Breuillin-Sessoms, F. 2015. Ammonium sorption and ammonia inhibition of nitrite-oxidizing bacteria explain contrasting soil N2O production. Scientific Reports. 5:12153. DOI: 10.1038/srep12153.

Interpretive Summary: Nitrous oxide (N2O) is an important greenhouse gas emitted from agricultural soils. Better understanding of process controls over N2O production in urine-impacted ‘hot spots’ and fertilizer bands is needed to improve mitigation strategies and emission models. Following amendment with bovine (Bos taurus) urine (Bu) or urea (Ur), we measured inorganic N, pH, N2O, and genes associated with nitrification in two soils (‘L’ and ‘W’) having similar texture, pH, C, and C/N ratio. Solution-phase ammonia (slNH3) was also calculated accounting for non-linear ammonium (NH4+) sorption capacities (ASC). Soil W displayed greater nitrification rates and nitrate (NO3-) levels than soil L, but was more resistant to nitrite (NO2-) accumulation and produced two to ten times less N2O than soil L. Genes associated with NO2- oxidation (nxrA) increased substantially in soil W but remained static in soil L. Soil NO2- was strongly correlated with N2O production, and cumulative (c-) slNH3 explained 87% of the variance in c-NO2-. Differences between soils were explained by greater slNH3 in soil L which inhibited NO2- oxidization leading to greater NO2- levels and N2O production. This is the first study to correlate the dynamics of soil slNH3, NO2-, N2O and nitrifier genes, and the first to show how ASC can regulate NO2- levels and N2O production. These results will be useful to scientists, land managers and policy-makers interested in more accurate prediction and more effective mitigation of nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural soils.

Technical Abstract: Better understanding of process controls over nitrous oxide (N2O) production in urine-impacted ‘hot spots’ and fertilizer bands is needed to improve mitigation strategies and emission models. Following amendment with bovine (Bos taurus) urine (Bu) or urea (Ur), we measured inorganic N, pH, N2O, and genes associated with nitrification in two soils (‘L’ and ‘W’) having similar texture, pH, C, and C/N ratio. Solution-phase ammonia (slNH3) was also calculated accounting for non-linear ammonium (NH4+) sorption capacities (ASC). Soil W displayed greater nitrification rates and nitrate (NO3-) levels than soil L, but was more resistant to nitrite (NO2-) accumulation and produced two to ten times less N2O than soil L. Genes associated with NO2- oxidation (nxrA) increased substantially in soil W but remained static in soil L. Soil NO2- was strongly correlated with N2O production, and cumulative (c-) slNH3 explained 87% of the variance in c-NO2-. Differences between soils were explained by greater slNH3 in soil L which inhibited NO2- oxidization leading to greater NO2- levels and N2O production. This is the first study to correlate the dynamics of soil slNH3, NO2-, N2O and nitrifier genes, and the first to show how ASC can regulate NO2- levels and N2O production.