Nitrogen fertilizer-induced mineralization of soil organic C and N in six contrasting soils of Bangladesh

Mohammad I. Khalil, Muhammad S. Rahman, Urs Schmidhalter, Hans Werner Olfs

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27 Scopus citations


A 90-day laboratory incubation study was carried out using six contrasting subtropical soils (calcareous, peat, saline, noncalcareous, terrace, and acid sulfate) from Bangladesh. A control treatment without nitrogen (N) application was compared with treatments where urea, ammonium sulfate (AS), and ammonium nitrate (AN) were applied at a rate of 100 mg N (kg soil)-1. To study the effect of N fertilizers on soil carbon (C) turnover, the CO2-C flux was determined at nine sampling dates during the incubation, and the total loss of soil carbon (TC) was calculated. Nitrogen turnover was characterized by measuring net nitrogen mineralization (NNM) and net nitrification (NN). Simple and stepwise multiple regressions were calculated between CO2-C flux, TC, NNM, and NN on the one hand and selected soil properties (organic C, total N, C:N ratio, CEC, pH, clay and sand content) on the other hand. In general, CO2-C fluxes were clearly higher during the first 2 weeks of the incubation compared to the later phases. Soils with high pH and/or indigenous C displayed the highest CO2-C flux. However, soils having low C levels (i.e., calcareous and terrace soils) displayed a large relative TC loss (up to 22.3%) and the added N-induced TC loss from these soils reached a maximum of 10.6%. Loss of TC differed depending on the N treatments (urea > AS > AN ≫ control). Significantly higher NNM was found in the acidic soils (terrace and acid sulfate). On average, NNM after urea application was higher than for AS and AN (80.3 vs. 71.9 and 70.9 N (kg soil)-1, respectively). However, specific interactions between N-fertilizer form and soil type have to be taken into consideration. High pH soils displayed larger NN (75.9-98.1 mg N (kg soil)-1) than low pH soils. Averaged over the six soils, NN after application of urea and AS (83.3 and 82.2 mg N (kg soil)-1, respectively) was significantly higher than after application of AN (60.6 mg N (kg soil)-1). Significant relationships were found between total CO2 flux and certain soil properties (organic C, total N, CEC, clay and sand content). The most important soil property for NNM as well as NN was soil pH, showing a correlation coefficient of -0.33** and 0.45***, respectively. The results indicate that application of urea to acidic soils and AS to high-pH soils could be an effective measure to improve the availability of added N for crop uptake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-218
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • C loss
  • N fertilizers
  • Net nitrification
  • Net nitrogen mineralization
  • Soil parameters
  • Subtropical soils


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