Emission of N2O, N2 and CO2 from soil fertilized with nitrate: Effect of compaction, soil moisture and rewetting

R. Ruser, H. Flessa, R. Russow, G. Schmidt, F. Buegger, J. C. Munch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

480 Scopus citations


Soil compaction and soil moisture are important factors influencing denitrification and N2O emission from fertilized soils. We analyzed the combined effects of these factors on the emission of N2O, N 2 and CO2 from undisturbed soil cores fertilized with N15O3- (150 kg N ha-1) in a laboratory experiment. The soil cores were collected from differently compacted areas in a potato field, i.e. the ridges (ρD=1.03 g cm-3), the interrow area (ρD=1.24 g cm-3), and the tractor compacted interrow area (ρD=1.64 g cm-3), and adjusted to constant soil moisture levels between 40 and 98% water-filled pore space (WFPS). High N 2O emissions were a result of denitrification and occurred at a WFPS≥70% in all compaction treatments. N2 production occurred only at the highest soil moisture level (≥90% WFPS) but it was considerably smaller than the N2O-N emission in most cases. There was no soil moisture effect on CO2 emission from the differently compacted soils with the exception of the highest soil moisture level (98% WFPS) of the tractor-compacted soil in which soil respiration was significantly reduced. The maximum N2O emission rates from all treatments occurred after rewetting of dry soil. This rewetting effect increased with the amount of water added. The results show the importance of increased carbon availability and associated respiratory O2 consumption induced by soil drying and rewetting for the emissions of N2O.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-274
Number of pages12
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Bulk density
  • Denitrification
  • N
  • N
  • N fertilizer
  • NO
  • Rewetting
  • Soil moisture
  • Soil respiration


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