Dissolved Organic Nitrogen: An Overlooked Pathway of Nitrogen Loss from Agricultural Systems?
- Chris van Kessel *a,
- Tim Cloughb and
- Jan Willem van Groenigenc
Conventional wisdom postulates that leaching losses of N from agriculture systems are dominated by NO3 − Although the export of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) into the groundwater has been recognized for more than 100 yr, it is often ignored when total N budgets are constructed. Leaching of DON into stream and drinking water reservoirs leads to eutrophication and acidification, and can pose a potential risk to human health. The main objective of this review was to determine whether DON losses from agricultural systems are significant, and to what extent they pose a risk to human health and the environment. Dissolved organic N losses across agricultural systems varied widely with minimum losses of 0.3 kg DON ha−1yr−1 in a pasture to a maximum loss of 127 kg DON ha−1yr−1 in a grassland following the application of urine. The mean and median values for DON leaching losses were found to be 12.7 and 4.0 kg N ha−1yr−1, respectively. On average, DON losses accounted for 26% of the total soluble N (NO3 − plus DON) losses, with a median value of 19%. With a few exceptions, DON concentrations exceeded the criteria recommendations for drinking water quality. The extent of DON losses increased with increasing precipitation/irrigation, higher total inputs of N, and increasing sand content. It is concluded that DON leaching can be an important N loss pathway from agricultural systems. Models used to simulate and predict N losses from agricultural systems should include DON losses.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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