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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 3, p. 1098-1105
    Received: June 10, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): taha@mail.ifas.ufl.edu
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A Comparison of In Situ Methods for Measuring Net Nitrogen Mineralization Rates of Organic Soil Amendments

  1. Travis A. Hanselman *,
  2. Donald A. Graetz and
  3. Thomas A. Obreza
  1. Soil and Water Science Department, 106 Newell Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0510


In situ incubation methods may help provide site-specific estimates of N mineralization from land-applied wastes. However, there are concerns about the reliability of the data generated by the various methods due to containment artifacts. We amended a sandy soil with either poultry manure, biosolids, or yard-waste compost and incubated the mixtures using four in situ methods (buried bags, covered cylinders, standard resin traps, and “new” soil–resin traps) and a conventional laboratory technique in plastic bags. Each incubation device was destructively sampled at 45-d intervals for 180 d and net N mineralization was determined by measuring the amount of inorganic N that accumulated in the soil or soil plus resin traps. Containment effects were evaluated by comparing water content of the containerized soil to a field-reference soil column. In situ incubation methods provided reasonable estimates of short-term (<45 d) N mineralization, but long-term (>45 d) mineralization data were not accurate due to a variety of problems specific to each technique. Buried bags and covered cylinders did not retain mineralized N due to water movement into and out of the containers. Neither resin method captured all of the mineralized N that leached through the soil columns, but the new soil–resin trap method tracked field soil water content better than all other in situ methods evaluated. With further refinement and validation, the new soil–resin trap method may be a useful in situ incubation technique for measuring net N mineralization rates of organic soil amendments.

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Copyright © 2004. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyASA, CSSA, SSSA