Seasonality of nitrogen uptake, apparent recovery of fertilizer nitrogen and background nitrogen supply in two Irish grassland soils
KeywordApparent recovery of fertilizer nitrogen
Fertilizer nitrogen for grass
Seasonality of nitrogen uptake
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CitationP.N.C. Murphy, K. O’Connell, S. Watson, C.J. Watson, J. Humphreys. Seasonality of nitrogen uptake, apparent recovery of fertilizer nitrogen and background nitrogen supply in two Irish grassland soils. Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research, 2013, 52, 17–38
AbstractImproving fertilizer nitrogen (N) use efficiency is central to sustainable and profitable grassland agriculture. A plot experiment with a control and fertilizer N (calcium ammonium nitrate, 25–50 kg/ha N) applied on nine occasions from February to September 2002 was conducted at two sites in southwest Ireland to assess N uptake and apparent recovery of fertilizer N (ARFN). Apparent recovery of fertilizer N after eight weeks varied from low in February (21%) and March (46%) to high from April to August (69–98%), indicating that high N use efficiency can be achieved in Irish grasslands at these times. Low recovery in spring suggested that N was applied in excess of immediate crop requirements. Note that N uptake and ARFN values from this study are likely to be somewhat conservative, particularly for spring applications. Over the 8 weeks during which growth was monitored, most (70%) of the grass yield and N uptake response to fertilizer N were in weeks 1 to 4 after application; however, a significant (30%) response occurred in weeks 5–8. This suggested that residual N availability following grazing at 4 weeks can be significant and that there may be scope to decrease N application rates in a grazing rotation. This can potentially improve N use efficiency and decrease N surpluses, with associated economic and environmental benefits. Apparent recovery of fertilizer N was closely related to soil temperature, with a 5.8% increase in ARFN with a 1 °C increase in temperature. Background (non-fertilizer) N supply contributed an average of 164 kg/ha per year (49%) taken up by the fertilized sward, highlighting the potential importance of soil N mineralisation to grassland productivity. Note that these results are for one year at two sites and that conditions may vary between years and at other sites and also that the experiment did not reproduce the cumulative effect of repeated fertilizer application over the grazing year.
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Confirmation of co-denitrification in grazed grasslandSelbie, Diana R.; Lanigan, Gary; Laughlin, Ronald J.; Di, Hong J.; Moir, James L.; Cameron, Keith C.; Clough, Tim J.; Watson, Catherine J.; Grant, Jim; Somers, Cathal; Richards, Karl G. (Nature Publishing Group, 2015-11-30)Pasture-based livestock systems are often associated with losses of reactive forms of nitrogen (N) to the environment. Research has focused on losses to air and water due to the health, economic and environmental impacts of reactive N. Di-nitrogen (N2) emissions are still poorly characterized, both in terms of the processes involved and their magnitude, due to financial and methodological constraints. Relatively few studies have focused on quantifying N2 losses in vivo and fewer still have examined the relative contribution of the different N2 emission processes, particularly in grazed pastures. We used a combination of a high 15N isotopic enrichment of applied N with a high precision of determination of 15N isotopic enrichment by isotope-ratio mass spectrometry to measure N2 emissions in the field. We report that 55.8 g N m−2 (95%, CI 38 to 77 g m−2) was emitted as N2 by the process of co-denitrification in pastoral soils over 123 days following urine deposition (100 g N m−2), compared to only 1.1 g N m−2 (0.4 to 2.8 g m−2) from denitrification. This study provides strong evidence for co-denitrification as a major N2 production pathway, which has significant implications for understanding the N budgets of pastoral ecosystems.
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