Response of Potentially Mineralizable Soil Nitrogen and Indices of Nitrogen Availability to Tillage System.

Sharifi, M., Zebarth, B.J., Burton, D.L., Grant, C.A., Bittman, S., Drury, C.F., McConkey, B.G., and Ziadi, N. (2008). "Response of Potentially Mineralizable Soil Nitrogen and Indices of Nitrogen Availability to Tillage System.", Soil Science Society of America Journal, 72(4), pp. 1124-1131. doi : 10.2136/sssaj2007.0243  Access to full text

Abstract

Tillage practices may affect the active fraction of soil organic N. As part of a national project to examine soil management and environmental controls on the active fraction of organic N, this study examined the effects of no-till (NT) and conventional tillage (CT) systems on the quantity of potentially mineralizable soil N (N0) and mineralizable N pools, and the potential to detect changes in these pools using N availability indices. Preplant soil samples from the top 15 cm were collected from four long-term tillage experiments at Swift Current, SK; Woodslee, ON; L'Acadie, QC; and Agassiz, BC. Potentially mineralizable N was determined by aerobic incubation at 25°C and periodic leaching for 24 wk. The N0 was greater under NT than under CT, but only at Swift Current. The labile and intermediate mineralizable N pools were significantly higher under NT than under CT at three of the four sites. The stable mineralizable N pool and the mineralization rate coefficient (k) were greater under NT than under CT at only one of the four sites. Adoption of NT influenced the quality of the active organic N fraction at three sites, as indicated by an increased proportion of mineralizable N in the more labile N pools. Among tested indices of N availability, KCl-extractable NH4-N, NaOH-extractable N, Illinois Soil N Test, phosphate-borate buffer extractable N, and particulate organic C were most sensitive to tillage-induced changes in the active organic N fraction. Tillage-induced changes in the size and quality of the active organic N fraction may influence soil N supply and should be considered in optimizing fertilizer N management.