Canadian Forest Service Publications

Transformations of residual 15N in a coniferous forest soil humus layer in northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. 1997. Chang, S.X.; Preston, C.M; McCullough, K. Plant and Soil 192: 295-305.

Year: 1997

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 4877

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free)

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Abstract

We studied the effect of 15N labelling duration on the mineralisation and immobilisation of native and applied (residual) N in the humus layer of a Humo-Ferric Podzol. Ammonium sulphate, labelled with 15N, was applied to 1 m2 plots at a rate of 200 kg N ha-1. Fertiliser application was timed so that when samples were collected they had been labelled with 15N for 24 hours, 7 months and 31 months. In a 42-day aerobic incubation of the samples, net mineralisation of total and applied N was greatest in the 24-hr treatment followed by those from the 31-month treatment (p<0.05), indicating that immobilised 15N was more remineralisable in the samples with 15N labelled for 24 hours. The percentage of applied N found in the total N mineralised (net) ranged from 76.6 to 87.4%, 13.1 to 42.0% and 10.6 to 14.0% in samples from the 24-hr and 7- and 31-month treatments, respectively, showing reduced relative availability of residual N with increased labelling duration. The carbon mineralisation rate had the following order: 7-month > 24-hr > 31-month treatment. Net mineralisation of C and N was poorly correlated with each other (r=-0.02, p=0.89). Anaerobic incubation showed net mineralisation for the 7- and 31-month treatments but net immobilisation for the 24-hr treatment for both total and applied N, suggesting that immobilisation of inorganic N was encouraged when there was a large pool of mineral N in the soil. Both total and applied N in the extractable organic N fraction and in the N flushed after fumigation with chloroform had the following order: 24-hr > 7-month > 31-month treatment. The results confirmed that N fertiliser was being immobilised within hours after application by the humus material through the microbial population and that the immobilised N had a low mineralisation potential after one growing season.