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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 3, p. 852-860
    Received: June 17, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): master@tx.technion.ac.il
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Nitrite Formation and Nitrous Oxide Emissions as Affected by Reclaimed Effluent Application

  1. Y. Master *a,
  2. R. J. Laughlinb,
  3. R. J. Stevensb and
  4. A. Shaviva
  1. a The Faculty of Agricultural Engineering, Technion-IIT, Haifa 32000, Israel
    b Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Agricultural and Environmental Science Division, Newforge Lane, Belfast BT9 5PX, Northern Ireland, UK


The effect of irrigation with reclaimed effluent (RE) (after secondary treatment) on the mechanisms and rates of nitrite formation, N2O emissions, and N mineralization is not well known. Grumosol (Chromoxerert) soil was incubated for 10 to 14 d with fresh water (FW) and RE treated with 15NO3 and 15NH4 + to provide a better insight on N transformations in RE-irrigated soil. Nitrite levels in RE-irrigated soil were one order of magnitude higher than in FW-irrigated soil and ranged between 15 to 30 mg N kg−1 soil. Higher levels of NO2 were observed at a moisture content of 60% than at 70% and 40% w/w. Nitrite levels were also higher when RE was applied to a relatively dry Grumosol (20% w/w) than at subsequent applications of RE to soil at 40% w/w. Isotopic labeling indicated that the majority of NO2 was formed via nitrification. The amount of N2O emitted from RE-treated Grumosol was double the amount emitted from FW treatments at 60% w/w. Nitrification was responsible for about 42% of the emissions. The N2O emission from the RE-treated bulk soil (passing a 9.5-mm sieve) was more than double the amount formed in large aggregates (4.76–9.5 mm in diameter). No dinitrogen was detected under the experimental conditions. Results indicate that irrigation with secondary RE stimulates nitrification, which may enhance NO3 leaching losses. This could possibly be a consequence of long-term exposure of the nitrifier population to RE irrigation. Average gross nitrification rate estimates were 11.3 and 15.8 mg N kg−1 soil d−1 for FW- and RE-irrigated bulk soils, respectively. Average gross mineralization rate estimates were about 3 mg N kg−1 soil d−1 for the two water types.

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