Canadian Forest Service Publications

Availability of residual 15N in a coniferous forest soil: a greenhouse bioassay and comparison with chemical extractions. 1999. Chang, S.X.; Preston, C.M; Weetman, G.F. Forest Ecology and Management 117: 199-209.

Year: 1999

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 5195

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free)

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The assessment of soil N availability by chemical extraction methods often needs to be checked by methods which directly measure plant N uptake such as a greenhouse bioassay. In this paper, the recovery of residual 15N, from humus material samples with 15N labelled for 24-h, seven-month, and 31-month, in western redcedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don) and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.) seedlings was investigated in a 342-day greenhouse incubation study and was compared to chemical extraction studies on the same samples. Apparently higher N availability in the 24-h treatment resulted in greater shoot mass in that treatment than in the other two treatments. However, root and whole plant mass were not significantly different among treatments and there were no differences between the species in any of the above measurements. Plants in the 24-h treatment also proportionally took up more residual 15N from the humus material than those in the other two treatments and thus significantly greater availability ratios were obtained in the former than in the latter two treatments. At the end of the 342-day incubation, a significant amount of 15N had been immobilised by the soil in the 24-h treatment compared to net 15N mineralisation in the other two treatments. The high soil mineral N and 15N contents in the 24-h treatment at the end of the 342-day incubation compared to the low soil mineral N and 15N contents in the seven-month treatment at the beginning of greenhouse incubation means immobilisation of fertiliser N in the greenhouse incubation was dramatically reduced compared to field situations. Nitrification was negligible before day 182 but was detected at the end of the incubation. Correlation analysis showed that 15N released during a two-week anaerobic incubation or in a 42-day aerobic incubation, 15N extracted by 0.01 M KMnO4 or 2 M KCl, 15N released by autoclaving or fumigation (-extraction), and even 15N abundance in the fulvic acid fraction of the organic matter all seemed good indicators of soil residual N availability.