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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Nitrous Oxide Production and Reduction during Denitrification as Affected by Redox Potential1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 45 No. 4, p. 727-730
    Received: Oct 17, 1980
    Accepted: Feb 19, 1981

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  1. J. Letey,
  2. N. Valoras,
  3. D. D. Focht and
  4. J. C. Ryden2



Nitrous oxide evolution from soils may contribute to partial destruction of the ozone layer in the stratosphere. Knowledge of factors affecting the N2O/N2 evolution ration from soils is important in properly assessing the hazard associated with N2O evolution. Previous investigations demonstrated that air-dry soils incubated in the laboratory under conditions to cause denitrification had an initial high N2O/N2 evolution ratio which rapidly decreased and approached zero. It was not possible to determine whether the observed time effect on the gaseous evolution was related to concurrent changes in the redox potentials in the soil. Experiments were conducted to measure the production, reduction, or both, of N2O at various redox potentials in incubation containers. Equal weights of soil and KNO3 solution were added to the incubation containers which were placed in a temperature-controlled waterbath shaker. The container was evacuated and refilled with helium. Small amounts of oxygen were periodically injected into the container to achieve the desired redox potential. Gas samples were withdrawn daily and analyzed for N2O, N2, O2, and CO2 on a gas chromatograph. Nitrate-nitrogen concentrations in solution were analyzed at the beginning and end of the incubation and were found to range from approximately 200 to 400 mg/liter during the incubation. There was essentially no denitrification at redox potentials of 300, 350, or 400 mV as determined by gas analyses and measurement of nitrate-nitrogen. When no oxygen was added to the system, the redox potential decreased and poised at approximately 200 mV throughout the incubation. At a redox potential of 200 mV, the N2O concentration increased, reaching a maximum at approximately 3 days, and decreased thereafter, reaching zero in 5 to 7 days after initiation of incubation. Thus, the previously observed time dependency of N2O evolution was repeated in these experiments and the results cannot be attributed to change in redox potential with time. The data also demonstrate that N2O can be reduced more rapidly than NO3-, even in the presence of relatively high NO3- concentrations.

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