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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Volatilization and Foliar Recapture of Ammonia Following Spring and Fall Application of Nitrogen-15 Urea to a Douglas-fir Ecosystem


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 52 No. 3, p. 821-828
    Received: July 21, 1987

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  1. G. E. Nason,
  2. D. J. Pluth and
  3. W. B. McGill
  1. Dep. of Soil Science, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR 97331-2213
    Dep. of Soil Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Can., T6G-2E3



Seasonal effects on the volatilization and vegetal recapture of NH3 following application of pelleted 15N urea at 200 kg N ha−1 to a 40-yr-old Douglas-fir [Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] ecosystem were investigated. Volatilization totalled 14 and 0.7% of applied N in spring and fall, respectively, and the difference appeared to be related to precipitation patterns following fertilization. Volatilization was generally enhanced by small spring rainfalls while depressed by larger fall rains. The isotopic abundance of evolved NH3 fluctuated from >90 to <10% of that of the fertilizer source. These fluctuations reflected the role of precipitation in the regulation of spatial heterogeneity of urea and urease in soil. Under spring conditions NH3 was recaptured by potted Douglas-fir seedlings. Seedlings at 10 cm above the forest floor captured 16 times as much NH3 as seedlings positioned at the 150-cm elevation. Labelled N was distributed among seedling tissues in the order: current foliage > 1-year-old foliage > roots which is consistent with anabolic incorporation and translocation. This mechanism may have a significant role in plant nutrition when conditions favorable to NH3 volatilization follow urea fertilization.

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