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Short-term effects of aglime on inorganic- and organic-derived CO2 emissions from two acid soils amended with an ammonium-based fertiliser

Bramble, De Shorn E., Gouveia, Gregory A., Ramnarine, Ravindra, Farrell, Richard E.
Journal of soils and sediments 2020 v.20 no.1 pp. 52-65
Eutrudepts, Fluvaquents, Kanhaplaquults, acid soils, acidity, ammonium, ammonium fertilizers, bottles, calcareous soils, carbon dioxide, carbonates, greenhouse gas emissions, lime requirement, nitrogen, oxidation, soil amendments, soil organic carbon, stable isotopes
PURPOSE: Aglime application can promote carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions from acid soils. However, the controlling mechanisms are still poorly understood, particularly the role of fertiliser-ammonium oxidation. This study therefore assessed the effects of aglime on soil inorganic C (SIC)– and soil organic C (SOC)–derived CO₂ emissions from acid soils amended with ammonium. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Ammonium at three N rates [0% (A0), 0.005% (A1), and 0.2% (A2) w/w] and labelled aglime (Ca¹³CO₃,¹³C 5.94% aa) at three rates [0% (L1), 0.067% (L1), and 0.392% (L2) w/w] were applied to two contrasting acid soils (Nariva series, Mollic Fluvaquents; and Piarco series, Typic Kanhaplaquults) and incubated in 1-l media bottles for 23 days. A calcareous soil (Princes Town series, Aquentic Eutrudepts, carbonate δ¹³C of − 4.79‰) was included as a control that only received ammonium at the three rates. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The application of ammonium at the A2 rate significantly (p < 0.05) increased cumulative SIC-CO₂ emissions by 15.8 and 27.1% in comparison to the A0 rate for the Nariva and Piarco soils, respectively, when they were limed at the L2 rate. The lower rate of ammonium (A1), however, had no effect on these emissions, which suggests that enough acidity may not have been generated at this rate to significantly enhance the release of SIC-CO₂. Furthermore, no effect of ammonium rates was observed on SIC-CO₂ emissions from the calcareous soil, which refutes the hypothesis that this amendment plays a greater role in regulating these emissions from calcareous soils compared with acid soils. Also, in contradiction to another hypothesis, the aglime-induced priming effect on SOC decomposition was more apparent in the low-C Piarco soil. This effect was also significantly (p < 0.05) greater at the L2 rate (above the lime requirement for Piarco), which demonstrates the negative impact that over-liming could have on the sequestration of C in this soil. Our results also showed that ammonium addition may also help to reduce the magnitude of the aglime-induced priming effect in the Piarco soil when it is not over-limed. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the findings of this study suggest that ammonium fertiliser broadcast at conventional rates may not serve as a significant regulator of SIC-CO₂ emissions from highly to moderately acidic soils amended with aglime. Our findings also indicate a need to consider nitrogen management as an important factor regulating the effects of aglime on SOC-CO₂ emissions.