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Subsoil nitrogen mineralisation and its potential to contribute to NH4 accumulation in a Vertosol

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Page, K.L., Dalal, R.C., Menzies, N.W. and Strong, W.M. (2003) Subsoil nitrogen mineralisation and its potential to contribute to NH4 accumulation in a Vertosol. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 41 (1). pp. 119-126.


Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SR02038

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au


High concentrations of NH4+ (up to 270 kg N/ha) have been observed in a Vertosol below 1 m depth in south-east Queensland. This study examined the possibility that mineralisation associated with the removal of native vegetation (Acacia harpophylla) for cropping was responsible for the production of NH4+. Particularly, the potential contribution of decomposing root material and/or dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) leached into the subsoil after clearing was investigated. The amount of N that was contained within native vegetation root material was determined from an area of native vegetation adjacent to the cleared site containing elevated NH4+ concentrations. In addition, the amount of NH4+ that could be mineralised in the native vegetation soil was determined by monitoring NH4+ concentrations over 360 days in intact cores, and by conducting waterlogged incubations. To determine the rate at which a source of DON leached into the subsoil would mineralise, soil was amended with glutamic acid at a rate of 250 mg N/kg and placed under waterlogged incubation. The possibility that the acidic pH of the subsoil, or the lack of a significant subsoil microbial population, was inhibiting mineralisation was also examined by increasing soil pH from 4.4 to 7.0, and inoculating the subsoil with surface soil microorganisms during waterlogged incubations. Low concentrations of N, approximately 90 kg N/ha between 1.2 and 3 m, were found in the native vegetation root material. In addition, no net N mineralisation was observed in either the extended incubation of intact cores or in the control samples of the waterlogged incubations. Net N mineralisation was also not detected when the subsoil was amended with a source of organic N. Results indicate that this lack of mineralisation is largely due to pH inhibition of the microbial population. It is concluded that the mineralisation of either in situ organic material, or DON transported to the subsoil during leaching events, is unlikely to have significantly contributed to the subsoil NH4 accumulation at the study site.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), Agri-Science, Crop and Food Science
Business groups:Crop and Food Science
Additional Information:Reproduced with permission from © CSIRO Publishing. Access to published version may be available via Publisher’s website.
Keywords:Subsoil NH4.
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science
Live Archive:03 Feb 2004
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:43

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