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Nitrogen losses from the soil/plant system: a review

Cameron, K.C., Di, H.J., Moir, J.L.
Annals of applied biology 2013 v.162 no.2 pp. 145-173
Algae, acid deposition, agricultural land, ammonia, aquatic weeds, best management practices, climate change, drinking water, environmental impact, eutrophication, fish, greenhouse gas emissions, lakes, land use, laws and regulations, leaching, losses from soil, nitrates, nitrogen, nitrogen cycle, nitrous oxide, ozone depletion, ozonosphere, risk, rivers, soil fertility, sustainable agriculture, temperate soils, water supply
Losses of nitrogen from the soil/plant system not only reduce soil fertility and plant yield but can also create adverse impacts on the environment. Ammonia emissions into the atmosphere contribute to acid rain and represent an indirect source of nitrous oxide greenhouse gas emissions. Nitrate leaching losses into rivers and lakes can cause eutrophication resulting in excessive growth of aquatic weeds and algae, which can reduce fish populations and the recreational value of the water. Nitrate contamination of drinking water supplies can cause health risks. Legislation that is designed to limit nitrate leaching losses from land has become a constraint on agricultural land use in many countries. Nitrous oxide emissions into the atmosphere contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer and also make a significant contribution to climate change. This review describes the nitrogen cycle in temperate soil/plant systems, the processes involved in each of the individual nitrogen loss pathways, the factors affecting the amounts of losses and the methods that are available to reduce these losses. The review has shown that careful management of temperate soil/plant systems using best management practices and newly developed technologies can increase the sustainability of agriculture and reduce its impact on the environment.