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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Temporal course of net N mineralization and immobilization in topsoil following incorporation of crop residues of winter oilseed rape, peas and oats in a northern climate

Engström, Lena; Linden, Börje


The impact of incorporated residues of winter oilseed rape, peas and oats on soil N availability and the risk of N leaching during autumn and winter in a northern climate is not clear. Therefore, the aim was to determine the influence of incorporated residues on net N mineralizationimmobilization in topsoil during autumn and winter. A field experiment carried out at three sites in South Sweden provided soil samples and crop residues for an interpretive, in situ incubation study. Topsoil corresponding to a 7-cm soil layer from each site used for the field experiment was incubated with and without aboveground residues under natural temperature conditions at a single field location. On the basis of the incubation study, we concluded that in the field experiment, soil N dynamics during autumn and winter trials were the combined outcome of net N mineralization in the topsoil fraction not affected by aboveground residues and net N immobilization in the fraction in contact with aboveground crop residues. In the absence of aboveground residues, the net rate of N mineralization during early autumn was similar after both oilseed rape and peas, but values were larger than that after oats. After incorporation, aboveground residues of winter oilseed rape and peas made no contribution to soil mineral N in late autumn and thus did not increase the risk of N losses during winter. In fact, the residues of oilseed rape, peas and oats reduced the amount of soil mineral N by 714 kg N/ha during the main drainage period (OctoberMarch). Therefore, incorporating chopped aboveground residues should be encouraged before sowing winter wheat after peas and winter oilseed rape.


C; N ratio; aboveground residues; incubation study; N losses; root residues; topsoil

Published in

Soil Use and Management
2012, Volume: 28, number: 4, pages: 436-447