Development of a rapid field-test for soil mineral nitrogen and its application to grazed grassland

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Scholefield, D. and Titchen, N. M. 1995. Development of a rapid field-test for soil mineral nitrogen and its application to grazed grassland. Soil Use and Management. 11 (1), pp. 33-43.

AuthorsScholefield, D. and Titchen, N. M.

The efficiency with which fertilizer nitrogen (N) is used in agricultural systems might be improved if the amounts applied at each top dressing were adjusted to avoid the accumulation of mineral-hi in the soil profile to levels in excess of the growth requirements of the crop. Such tactical application of fertilizer would be feasible if soil mineral-N could be determined rapidly in the field with sufficient accuracy. This paper describes a rapid field test for both the ammonium and nitrate components of soil mineral-N based on reading paper test strips with a reflectometer, recalibrated for use with KCl solution. The new test is volumetric and also accounts for the effects of fluctuations in soil water content by means of a standard dilution procedure to provide an absolute measure of soil mineral-N in about one hour. Measurements of ammonium and nitrate in a clay loam soil sampled from grazed pasture were compared with those made by conventional laboratory based methods; they generally differed by less than 5%. The proportion of mineral-N as ammonium averaged about 50% overall and typically exceeded 70% in spring. Ammonium and nitrate were not well correlated. The use of a filter-press to expel soil solution increased the sensitivity of the test five-fold to enable application in studies of soil N transformations in unfertilized and semi-natural environments.

KeywordsSoil Science
Year of Publication1995
JournalSoil Use and Management
Journal citation11 (1), pp. 33-43
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Funder project or code52
Project: 2401525

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