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Effect of soil characteristics on N mineralization capacity in 112 native and agricultural soils from the northwest of Spain

Gonzalez-Prieto, S.J., Cabaneiro, A., Villar, M.C., Carballas, M., Carballas, T.
Biology and fertility of soils 1996 v.22 no.3 pp. 252-260
agricultural soils, grassland soils, forest soils, nitrogen, mineralization, ammonium nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen, nutrient availability, carbon nitrogen ratio, soil pH, base saturation, aluminum, soil texture, soil parent materials, Spain
N mineralization capacity and its main controlling factors were studied in a large variety (n=112) of native (forest, bush) and agricultural (pasture, cultivated) soils from several climatic zones in Spain. The available inorganic N content, net N mineralization, and net N mineralization rate were determined after 6 weeks of aerobic incubation. NH4+-N largely predominated over NO3(-)-N (ratio near 10:1) except in some agricultural soils. Net N mineralization predominated (83% of soils) over net N immobilization, which was more frequent in agricultural soils (25%) than in native soils (9%). In forest soils, both net N mineralization and the net N mineralization rate were significantly higher than in the other soil groups. The net N mineralization rate of pasture and cultivated soils was similar to that of bush soils, but available inorganic N was lower. The net N mineralization rate decreased in the order: soils over acid rocks>soils over sediments>soils over basic rocks or limestone; moreover, the highest net N mineralization and available inorganic N were found in soils over acid rocks. The highest N mineralization was found in soils with low C and N contents, particularly in the native soils, in which N mineralization increased as the C:N ratio increased. N mineralization was higher in soils with a low pH and base saturation than in soils with high pH and base saturation values, which sometimes favoured N immobilization. Soils with an Al gel content of >1% showed lower net N mineralization rates than soils with Al gel contents of <1%, although net N mineralization and available inorganic N did not differ between these groups. The net N mineralization rate in silty soils was significantly lower than in sandy and clayey soils, although soil texture only explained a low proportion of the differences in N mineralization between soils.