Estimating nitrate leaching and denitrification by simultaneous use of Br and 15N tracers

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Abu Bakar, R., Goulding, K. W. T., Webster, C. P., Poulton, P. R. and Powlson, D. S. 1994. Estimating nitrate leaching and denitrification by simultaneous use of Br and 15N tracers. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 66 (4), pp. 509-519.

AuthorsAbu Bakar, R., Goulding, K. W. T., Webster, C. P., Poulton, P. R. and Powlson, D. S.
Abstract

Losses of nitrogen (N) by leaching were estimated in three experiments using bromide (Br) as a tracer. An estimate of denitrification was also made, by difference, by combining the estimate of leaching with a measure of total loss of applied N using N-15. This was compared with a direct measure of denitrification made using acetylene inhibition. Bromide proved to be a poor tracer for nitrate (NO3) leaching at two of the three sites, Brimstone and Hoosfield. Performance was rather better at the Broad Mead site. Problems in using Br were associated with (a) difficulties in measuring small concentrations of Br close to background in soil, and (b) reactions involving N such as immobilisation and mineralisation that rapidly change NO3 pools but do not affect Br. Use of Br in held experiments is unlikely to provide reliable estimates of NO3 leaching over timescales of several weeks as used here unless much more frequent sampling is done. Simultaneous measurements of total losses of N using a N-15 tracer were combined with estimates of NO3 leaching using Br to calculate denitrification; these estimates were compared with measurements of denitrification using acetylene inhibition. Agreement was poor because of (i) the lack of reliability of the acetylene inhibition technique, and (ii) the very large errors associated with calculating denitrification as the difference between an estimate of NO3 leaching and total N losses.

KeywordsAgriculture, Multidisciplinary; Chemistry, Applied; Food Science & Technology
Year of Publication1994
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Journal citation66 (4), pp. 509-519
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Funder project or code920
221
ISSN00225142
PublisherWiley

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