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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - DIVISION S-4-SOIL FERTILITY & PLANT NUTRITION

Evaluating Chemical and Physical Indices of Nitrogen Mineralization Capacity with an Unequivocal Reference


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 65 No. 2, p. 368-376
    Received: Jan 24, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): weijin.wang@dnr.qld.au
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  1. Weijin Wang *a,
  2. Chris J. Smithc,
  3. Phillip M. Chalkd and
  4. Deli Chenb
  1. a DNR, 80 Meiers Rd., Indooroopilly, QLD, 4068, Australia
    c CSIRO Land and Water, GPO Box 1666, Canberra 2601, ACT, Australia
    d International Atomic Energy Agency, P.O. Box 200, A-1400 Vienna, Austria
    b Dep. of Resource Management and Horticulture, Univ. of Melbourne, Parkville 3052, VIC, Australia


After decades of searching for a rapid method to estimate the N mineralization capacity of soil, there is still no consistent recommendation. It is legitimate to examine the causes for the often-conflicting results in literature. The efficacy of various references that have been used as benchmarks for assessing chemical and physical indices in the literature is critically reviewed in this paper. Gross N mineralization and consumption during waterlogged and aerobic incubations were estimated in a wide range of soils. It was found that equivalent to 17 to 90 and 23 to 59% of the mineralized N was consumed during the waterlogged and aerobic incubations, respectively. As net N production rate represents the balance between N-producing and N-consuming processes, it appears difficult to find a simple method that could be used to predict the net effect of several concurrent processes. We used the gross N mineralization as a reference criterion for N mineralization ability. Total organic N, water-soluble organic N, alkali-hydrolyzable N, acid-hydrolyzable N, hot salt-hydrolyzable N and N in the light organic matter fraction were assessed against this reference criterion. All indices except light fraction N were significantly related to gross N mineralization. Water-soluble organic N had the highest correlation of all the indices tested. None of the chemically hydrolyzed N fractions consistently showed closer relationships with N mineralization than total organic N, suggesting that these chemical methods are ineffective in extracting a biologically labile fraction of soil organic N.

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Copyright © 2001. Soil Science SocietyPublished in Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J.65:368–376.