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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Barometric Process Separation: New Method for Quantifying Nitrification, Denitrification, and Nitrous Oxide Sources in Soils


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 63 No. 1, p. 117-128
    Received: Mar 21, 1997

    * Corresponding author(s): papen@ifu.fhg.de
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  1. Joachim Ingwersen,
  2. Klaus Butterbach-Bahl,
  3. Rainer Gasche,
  4. Hans Papen  and
  5. Otto Richter
  1. Fraunhofer Institute for Atmospheric Environmental Research (IFU), Div. Biosphere/Atmosphere Exchange, Dep. of Soil Microbiology, Kreuzeckbahnstrasse 19, D-82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
    Institute für Geographie und Geoökologie der Technischen Universität Braunschweig, Langer Kamp 19 c, D-38106 Braunschweig, Germany



A method (Barometric Process Separation, BaPS) was developed for the quantification of gross nitrification rates and denitrification rates in oxic soil using intact soil cores incubated in an isothermal gas tight system. Gross nitrification rates and denitrification rates are derived from measurements of changes (i) in air pressure within the closed system, which are primarily the result of the activities of nitrification (pressure decrease), denitrification (pressure increase), and respiration (pressure neutral), and (ii) of O2 and CO2 concentrations in the system. Besides these biological processes, the contribution of physicochemical dissolution of produced CO2 in soil water to the pressure changes observed is to be considered. The method allows collection of additional information about the contribution of nitrification and denitrification to N2O emission from soil, provided simultaneous measurements of N2O emission are performed. Furthermore, BaPS can be used to quantify the percentage of N2O lost from nitrification. The advantage of BaPS is that disturbance of the soil system is minimized compared with other methods such as the use of gaseous inhibitors (e.g., acetylene) or application of 15N compounds to the soil. We present the theoretical considerations of BaPS, results for nitrification rates, denitrification rates, and identification of soil N2O sources in a well-aerated coniferous forest soil using BaPS. The suitability of BaPS as a method for determination of gross nitrification is demonstrated by validation experiments using the 15N-pool dilution technique.

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