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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #403283

Research Project: Agricultural Management for Long-Term Sustainability and Soil Health

Location: Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research

Title: Modeling denitrification: Can we report what we don’t know?

item GROSZ, BALÁZS - Thunen Institute Of Climate-Smart Agriculture
item MATSON, AMANDA - Wageningen University And Research Center
item WEIL, REINHARD - Thunen Institute Of Climate-Smart Agriculture
item DECHOW, RENE - Thunen Institute Of Climate-Smart Agriculture
item Del Grosso, Stephen - Steve
item VOGELER, IRIS - Aarhus University
item KUHNERT, MATTHIAS - University Of Aberdeen
item HAAS, EDWIN - Karlsruhe Institute Of Technology
item PETERSON, SØREN - Aarhus University
item DIAMANTOPOULOS, EFSTATHIOS - University Of Bayreuth
item KRAUS, DAVID - Karlsruhe Institute Of Technology
item SIHI, DEBJANI - Emory University
item HE, HONGXING - McGill University - Canada
item DÖRSCH, PETER - Norwegian University Of Life Sciences
item ZHANG, JIE - Aarhus University
item LÉONARD, JOËL - Inrae
item BUTTERBACH-BAH, KLAUS - Karlsruhe Institute Of Technology
item CLOUGH, TIM - Lincoln University Of Missouri
item HUI, DAFENG - Tennessee State University
item YELURIPATI, JAGADEESH - University Of Aberdeen
item KLEINEIDAM, KRISTINA - Justus-Liebig University
item MÜLLER, CHRISTOPH - Justus-Liebig University
item HENRI, CHRISTOPHER - Geological Survey Of Denmark And Greenland (GEUS)
item DAVIDSON, ERIC - University Of Maryland
item SCHEER, CLEMENS - Karlsruhe Institute Of Technology

Submitted to: AGU Advances
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/30/2023
Publication Date: 10/29/2023
Citation: Grosz, B., Matson, A., Weil, R., Dechow, R., Del Grosso, S.J., Vogeler, I., Kuhnert, M., Haas, E., Peterson, S., Diamantopoulos, E., Kraus, D., Sihi, D., He, H., Dörsch, P., Zhang, J., Léonard, J., Butterbach-Bah, K., Clough, T., Hui, D., Yeluripati, J., Kleineidam, K., Müller, C., Henri, C., Davidson, E., Scheer, C. 2023. Modeling denitrification: Can we report what we don’t know?. AGU Advances. 4(6). Article e2023AV000990.

Interpretive Summary: Most ecosystem models calculate the entire nitrogen (N) balance to describe soil N turnover, but published results are generally limited to environmentally harmful N losses like nitrous oxide emissions and nitrate leaching. Scientists from USDA-ARS and colleagues argue that the publication and presentation of the full N cycle calculated by models is crucial for model development, quality control and model intercomparison. Although it would mean publishing some results that are not yet validated by measured data, we ask the ecosystem N modeling community to support and encourage the presentation of all relevant N model results. We focus mainly on denitrification and specifically the publishing of modeled molecular nitrogen (N2) emissions because this gas makes an important contribution to N budgets but is rarely measured under field conditions. This opinion paper will spur further model development and identify data gaps that should be prioritized in future observational studies.

Technical Abstract: Biogeochemical models are useful tools to simulate soil nitrogen (N) turnover and are often used to assess environmental N losses associated with the microbial processes of nitrification and denitrification. However, while the models themselves simulate complete ecosystem N cycling, only the results of specific N pools/processes of interest are usually published (often harmful N compounds like N2O, NO3-, NH3 or NOx). Presenting a full N balance would allow for more comprehensive model assessment, specifically with regard to needed developments, quality control and interoperability. Full N balances are likely not reported because they have not been validated with measured data. Field studies rarely include full N balances, especially if that requires measurements of N2 fluxes, which are very difficult. Limiting the publication of modeling results based on available field data is a missed opportunity to share knowledge and improve our understanding of modeled processes. In future denitrification studies, we ask the modeler community to support the publication of all simulated N pools and processes to whichever extent possible.