Nitrogen Effects on Conservation of Carbon during Corn Residue Decomposition in Soil
Nitrogen fertilization is widely recognized for its potential to help maintain soil organic matter (SOM) concentrations by increasing plant growth and amounts of plant material decomposed in soils. We studied possible mechanisms by which annual additions of more N than needed to maximize yields of corn (Zea mays L.) could cause losses of SOM. Various amounts of stover and NO−3 were added to a Galva silty clay loam (fine-silty, mixed, mesic Typic Hapludoll), and NO−3 concentrations and CO2 evolution were monitored for periods up to 90 d at 24°C in the laboratory. The added NO−3 suppressed mineralization of C from SOM and stimulated mineralization of C from stover. Adjustment of rates of stover decomposition to temperature regimes normally encountered in Iowa fields after harvest showed that stover decomposition would not be complete within 1 yr and that increases in NO−3 availability decreased the amount of stover C remaining in the soil. This effect of NO−3 could explain how additions of unneeded N could decrease concentrations of SOM in long-term studies in which residues and NO−3 are added in annual cycles. These observations suggest that practices that reduce unnecessary fertilization could help conserve SOM and reduce net amounts of CO2 released to the atmosphere.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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