Faculty Publications

Title

A preliminary assessment of nitrate degradation in simulated soil environments

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Denitrification, Ethanol, Fertilization, Iowa, Irrigation, Nitrogen, USA

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Environmental Geology

Volume

45

Issue

2

First Page

161

Last Page

170

Abstract

This study was directed toward a preliminary assessment of nitrate degradation in northeast Iowa soils. Soil experimental plots were created with variable combinations of fertilizers, ethanol, irrigation, and plant growth. The maximum average concentration of nitrate was much higher in the chemically fertilized plots (500 mg/km) than those fertilized organically (120 mg/kg). This was attributed to the excessive ammonia volatilization from the applied cow manure. Soil nitrate dropped from 155 to 50 mg/kg in a matter of 3 weeks in the deep samples of the intermittently irrigated plots. This is because higher soil moisture lowered the oxygen level, which favored denitrification. Although ethanol seemed to have restricted the release of nitrate in the manure-treated plots, the data are not conclusive. The highest degradation of soil-nitrate (lowest recovered 38 mg/kg) was observed in the plots that simultaneously grew corn, received cow manure, and were not irrigated. Soils in these plots were depleted of nitrogen by ammonia volatilization from manure, and through the uptake by corn plants. Nitrification of organic nitrogen to nitrate was restricted in plots that were left without irrigation. Rain events helped nitrification on the surface, but promoted denitrification at depth.

Original Publication Date

12-1-2003

DOI of published version

10.1007/s00254-003-0876-0

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