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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2008

Predictors of gross N mineralization and immobilization during decomposition of stabilized organic matter in agricultural soil

Herrmann, A. M.; Witter, E.


Long-term additions of different types of organic amendments affect the amount of soil organic matter. Less is known about how this in turn affects carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) mineralization from the pool of stabilized soil organic matter, or the extent to which gross N immobilization influences the net amount of N mineralized. Soils, differing in the quantity and quality of organic matter inputs they had received since 1956, were sampled approximately 6 or 18 months after the most recent applications of organic amendments. Two laboratory experiments were carried out to: (i) evaluate if, and how, the organic amendments had affected C mineralization, gross and net N mineralization; (ii) examine the relation between gross N immobilized and free-light fraction of organic matter; and (iii) assess predictors for gross N mineralization and immobilization rates in soils. The amount of soil organic C and N were major determinants of C and gross N mineralization, but not of net N mineralization. Carbon mineralization was related to gross N mineralization, but the ratio between the two was not constant. Gross N immobilization was related to the amount of free-light fraction material in the soil with 90% variation explained. For most common organic amendments applied in autumn, our results support the use of total soil organic N and C mineralization as predictors of gross N mineralization from stabilized soil organic matter. In addition, we propose that the amount of free-light fraction material present in the soil in spring is adequate as a predictor of the immobilization potential of the soil, without a need to consider the C-to-N ratio of this material.

Published in

European Journal of Soil Science
2008, Volume: 59, number: 4, pages: 653-664

      SLU Authors

    • Herrmann, Anke

      • Department of Soil Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Witter, Ernst

        • Department of Soil Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG15 Life on land

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Soil Science

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)