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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Effect of Plant Ash on Nitrogen Fertilizer Transformations and Ammonia Volatilization1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 42 No. 1, p. 140-143
    Received: Apr 19, 1977
    Accepted: Sept 27, 1977

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  1. R. J. Raison and
  2. J. W. McGarity2



The influence of plant ash on the transformation of N-containing fertilizers and the volatilization of NH3 was studied in the presence and absence of soil. In moist ash alone, urea and KNO3 were unaffected, but 63 and 70% of N applied as (NH4)2SO4 was volatilized from autoclaved and nonautoclaved ashes, respectively, over a 4-day period.

Volatilization of NH3 was greater when urea or (NH4)2SO4 was topdressed to soil treated with a surface layer of ash than when they were added to bare soil. The effect of ash resulted from its ability to increase surface soil pH, saturate surface soil exchange sites with basic cations, and increase soil urease activities.

These findings suggest that volatile loss of N can be expected when NH4-N yielding compounds (e.g., fertilizers, urea excreted by wildlife) are added to surface accretions of plant ash. This factor should be considered in the timing of surface applications of N fertilizer to forests.

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