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Nitrogen fixing trees influence concentrations of ammonium and amino sugar-nitrogen in soils Jing-Shu Wang, Saeed A. Khan, and Jeffrey O. Dawson Department.

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Presentation on theme: "Nitrogen fixing trees influence concentrations of ammonium and amino sugar-nitrogen in soils Jing-Shu Wang, Saeed A. Khan, and Jeffrey O. Dawson Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nitrogen fixing trees influence concentrations of ammonium and amino sugar-nitrogen in soils Jing-Shu Wang, Saeed A. Khan, and Jeffrey O. Dawson Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

2 Introduction The recently-developed Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test (ISNT) measures the combined concentration of ammonium- and amino sugar-N in soils, providing a novel, alternative approach to N fertility assessment. The nonresponse level to N fertilization for corn is 235 (mg · kg -1 or 635 lbs per acre) amino sugar plus ammonium N.

3 Introduction A positive correlation between soil amino sugar-N plus NH 4 -N values and check-plot yield was described by Mulvaney et al. at the U. of Illinois. This method to determine soil N availability is sensitive and provides a simple estimation of soil capacity to supply plant- available N.

4 Introduction Amino sugar-N in soils originates from microbial activity rather than from higher plants. Therefore, the concentration of amino sugar-N in soils reflects the level of mineralizable N and soil capacity to supply N to promote plant growth.

5 Rationale Amino sugar-N is a key soil organic fraction associated with soil N fertility. It is different from leachable NO 3 - in that it is more stable. It should provide a straightforward and more accurate estimate of soil N fertility than other methods currently available (total N, lab incubations for mineralization, buried bag, resin exchange).

6 Hypothesis Amino sugar-N will increase in concentration in soils under nitrogen-fixing trees.

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13 Objectives 1) to determine how different densities, sizes and species of nitrogen-fixing trees in different soil types affect soil concentrations of amino sugar-N (plus ammonium). 2) to describe amino sugar-N distribution with respect to soil depths in plots with and without N 2 -fixing trees.

14 Study Sites in East-Central Illinois The University of Illinois Arboretum (N. Lat. 40 o ). The Douglas-Hart Nature Center (DHNC), a 50- year-old interplanting of either 2 native trees per 1 N 2 -fixing A. glutinosa or Robinia pseudoacacia L. tree or no N 2 -fixing nurse trees at all (spacing 10 × 10 feet). Kickapoo State Park in Vermilion County, IL on 45- year-old mine spoils.

15 Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test The samples were analyzed using the ISNT technique described by Khan et al. (Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 65: ). H 3 BO 3 -indicator solution was suspended from the lid of a Mason jar. Sealed jars were heated for 5 hours in 10 ml of 2 M NaOH at precisely 48 o C. After 5 hours of ammonia diffusion, the H 3 BO 3 -indicator solution was titrated with 0.01 M H 2 SO 4 to determine quantity of ammonium from amino sugar and ammonium N in the soil samples.

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19 Soil depth Number of samples Mean amino sugar [ N ] Near A. glutinosa trees Depth 0-10 cm a 1 Depth cm b Depth cm b Near T. americana tree 0-10 cm a cm7368.1b cm7362.8b Individual mean differences in amino sugar nitrogen concentration (mg · kg -1 ) of soil from different depths associated with actinorhizal A. glutinosa trees and a T. americana tree at the University Arboretum. 1 Means with the same letter for a tree species are not significantly different (LSD, α = 0.05).

20 Canopy position Number of samples Mean amino sugar [ N ] A. glutinosa trees Under the canopy a 1 Away from the canopy b T. americana tree Under the canopy a 1 Away from the canopy3391.1a Individual mean differences in amino sugar nitrogen concentration (mg · kg -1 ) in the top 30 cm of soil associated with actinorhizal A. glutinosa trees and a T. americana tree at the University Arboretum. 1 Means with the same letter for a tree species are not significantly different (LSD, α = 0.05).

21 Chemical analysis of the surficial 30 cm of soil at the Arboretum. CEC= cation exchange capacity. Values are means with standard deviation within parenthesis. 1 Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test (Khan et al., 2001). 2 Total nitrogen (Kirsten and Hesselius, 1983). 3 Cation exchange capacity. 4 Base saturation percentage of cation exchange sites. 5 Means with the same letter within a column for a given location are not significantly different (LSD, α= 0.05).

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23 Ammonium and amino sugar-N concentration For DHNC, significant differences occurred for depths, but not for past alder or black locust influence (nitrogen fixing nurse trees mostly dead after 50+ years). There is more biomass in the interplanted stands at DHNC, which could constitute a major N pool for the site and explain the lack of significant differences in soil amino sugar-N.

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25 Soil depth Number of samples Mean amino sugar [ N ] 0-10 cm a cm2647.7b cm2435.5b Individual mean differences in amino sugar nitrogen concentration (mg · kg -1 ) of different soil depths at Kickapoo State Park. 1 Means with the same letter are not significantly different (LSD, α = 0.05).

26 Vegetative cover Number of samples Mean amino sugar [ N ] E. umbellata4103.6a 1 A. glutinosa1898.4a Grass or S. interior 354.3b Individual mean differences in amino sugar nitrogen concentration (mg · kg -1 ) in the top 30 cm of soil for different vegetation at Kickapoo State Park. 1 Means with the same letter are not significantly different (LSD, α = 0.05).

27 Chemical analysis of the surficial 30 cm of soil on mine spoils. CEC= cation exchange capacity. Values are means with standard deviation within parenthesis. 1 Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test (Khan et al., 2001). 2 Total nitrogen (Kirsten and Hesselius, 1983). 3 Cation exchange capacity. 4 Base saturation percentage of cation exchange sites. 5 Means with the same letter within a column for a given location are not significantly different (LSD, α= 0.05).

28 Soil Depth Strata Amino sugar-N concentrations were always highest in the top 10 cm of soil consistent with the input of organic N from annual litter fall and surficial root dieback, but the mount of increase over control amount with respect to lower strata varied… minespoil w N fixers>mollisols w N- fixers>

29 Arboretum Findings The significant 13 % increase in soil amino sugar N under the A. glutinosa canopy occurred, even though soil amino sugar levels indicate high N fertility. High N fertility levels can inhibit symbiotic nitrogen fixation by plants through energy conserving feedback mechanisms.

30 Additional Arboretum Findings At the University Arboretum under A. glutinosa leaf canopies, there were significantly higher amino sugar-N concentrations, lower pH values and greater proton saturation of CEC exchange sites than beyond A. glutinosa canopies in the 0-30 cm soil layer. Increased ammonium nitrogen from mineralization of litter and sloughed roots of A. glutinosa tissue enriched with fixed N is oxidized to nitrate via microbial nitrification, which can decrease soil pH and thereby increase cation leaching. Total N and amino sugar-N in soils were not correlated at this site.

31 Mine Spoil Findings On mine spoils, both E. umbellata and A. glutinosa had significantly higher amino sugar-N concentrations than the control plot. The E. umbellata plot had the highest amino sugar-N, followed by the A. glutinosa plot and, lastly, the control plot.

32 Mine Spoil Findings At Kickapoo State Park, the only significant correlation was negative (r= ) for the relationship between amino sugar-N concentration and total N. Higher amino sugar-N concentration may reflect abundant and easily mineralizable N of the actinorhizal plant litter and sloughed roots.

33 Mine Spoil Findings There was higher phosphorus concentration beneath A. glutinosa at Kickapoo State Park similar to findings of Giardina et al. (1995)

34 Conclusions ISNT is sensitive to soil nitrogen fertility contributions by nitrogen-fixing trees, The test itself is simple, precise and employs commonly-available materials. The test results, when calibrated with corresponding levels of productivity, should be able to predict soil N fertility and the potential benefits of planting N-fixing trees on a particular soil type.

35 THANK YOU Any questions?


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