Labile organic matter fractions as early-season nitrogen supply indicators in manure-amended soils.

Thomas, B.W., Whalen, J.K., Sharifi, M., Chantigny, M.H., and Zebarth, B.J. (2015). "Labile organic matter fractions as early-season nitrogen supply indicators in manure-amended soils.", Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science. doi : 10.1002/jpln.201400532  Access to full text

Abstract

Soil test indicators are needed to predict the contribution of soil organic N to crop N requirements. Labile organic matter (OM) fractions containing C and N are readily metabolized by soil microorganisms, which leads to N mineralization and contributes to the soil N supply to crops. The objective of this study was to identify labile OM fractions that could be indicators of the soil N supply by evaluating the relationship between the soil N supply, the C and N concentrations, and C/N ratios of water extractable OM, hot-water extractable OM, particulate OM, microbial biomass, and salt extractable OM. Labile OM fractions were measured before planting spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in fertilized soils and the soil N supply was determined from the wheat N uptake and soil mineral N concentration after 6 weeks. Prior to the study, fertilized sandy loam and silty clay soils received three annual applications of 90 kg available N (ha · y)−1 from mineral fertilizer, liquid dairy cattle manure, liquid swine manure or solid poultry litter, and there was a zero-N control. Water extractable organic N was the only labile OM fraction to be affected by fertilization in both soil types (P < 0.01). Across both test soils, the soil N supply was significantly correlated with the particulate OM N (r = 0.87, P < 0.001), the particulate OM C (r = 0.83, P < 0.001), and hot-water extractable organic N (r = 0.81, P < 0.001). We conclude that pre-planting concentrations of particulate OM and hot-water extractable organic N could be early season indicators of the soil N supply in fertilized soils of the Saint Lawrence River Lowlands in Quebec, Canada. The suitability of these pre-planting indicators to predict the soil N supply under field conditions and in fertilized soils from other regions remains to be determined.

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