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A preliminary study to predict net nitrogen mineralisation in a flooded rice soil using anaerobic incubation

JF Angus, M Ohnishi, T Horie and RL Williams

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 34(7) 995 - 999
Published: 1994


Complementary field and laboratory studies were conducted to determine whether laboratory measurements of net nitrogen (N) mineralisation under anaerobic conditions could be used to predict field rates in a flooded soil and N uptake by a rice crop. The laboratory experiment consisted of measurements of ammonium accumulation at 10, 20, 30, and 40¦C for 7, 14, and 28 days of anaerobic incubation. There was no accumulation of ammonium at 10¦C, but increasing ammonification rate at temperatures of 20¦C was observed, except for a slower rate at 40¦C after 14 days. Two models were tested on the data: a zero-order reaction in which rate of mineralisation was a linear function of temperature; a first-order reaction in which net N mineralisation rate was a proportion of a depleting pool of labile organic N. In the second model, the rate was also linearly related to temperature. Both models fitted the laboratory data well (R2 = 0.94 and 0.97, respectively), but the second model accounted better for mineralisation at 40¦C for the 28-day incubation. These models were then run, using daily mean temperatures over a rice-growing season, to predict net mineralisation in the field. The predictions were compared with measured net N mineralisation in a flooded soil and N uptake by the crop measured throughout the season in the field from which the incubated soil was sampled. Net N mineralisation and crop uptake increased throughout the season, reaching maximum values of 115 and 111 kg N/ha at maturity. The zero-order and first-order models both predicted net N mineralisation accurately until the middle of the season, after which the zero-order model overestimated net N mineralisation but the first-order model predicted the reduction in the rate of net N mineralisation with reasonable accuracy. The close agreement between the laboratory incubations and field measurements of net mineralisation and crop N uptake suggest that incubation tests may provide useful information for including in a model to assist rice growers' decisions about N fertiliser.

© CSIRO 1994

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