Soil Research Soil Research Society
Soil, land care and environmental research

Modelling DCD effect on nitrate leaching under controlled conditions

Iris Vogeler A C , Adeline Blard B and Nanthi Bolan B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A HortResearch, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

B Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University, New Zealand.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Soil Research 45(4) 310-317
Submitted: 22 December 2006  Accepted: 23 May 2007   Published: 28 June 2007


Effects of nitrogen losses through nitrate leaching are one of the major environmental issues worldwide. To determine the potential effect of dicyandiamide (DCD), a nitrification inhibitor, on the transformation of urea nitrogen and subsequent nitrate leaching, incubation and column leaching experiments were performed. Tokomaru silt loam soil was treated with urea, DCD, or urea plus DCD. A control was also used.

In the laboratory incubation experiment, the conversion of urea to ammonium (i.e. ammonification process or urea hydrolysis) occurred within a day, thereby increasing the soil pH from 5.8 to 6.9. DCD did not affect the ammonification process. However, DCD did slow down the subsequent oxidation of ammonium to nitrate (i.e. nitrification process). The half-life time of ammonium in this soil was increased from 9 days for the urea treatment to 31 days for the urea + DCD treatment. The production of nitrate was 5 times slower when DCD was added.

In the leaching experiments, half the columns were leached after 1 day of incubation (Day 1), the other half 7 days later (Day 7). For Day 1, no significant differences in nitrate leaching could be seen between the treatments, as the nitrification had not yet taken place. For Day 7, DCD decreased nitrate leaching by 71% with a corresponding decrease in nitrate-induced cation leaching, including ammonium. Thus, DCD seems to be effective in decreasing both ammonium and nitrate leaching, but its high solubility and thus mobility could be a limitation to its use.

The convection–dispersion equation, including source–sink terms for nitrogen transformations, ammonification, and nitrification rate constants, and a factor for nitrification inhibition by DCD, accounting for degradation and efficiency of DCD, could be used reasonably well to simulate nitrate leaching from the column leaching experiments. However, model parameter values for nitrification rate, and efficiency and decay rate for DCD, were different from those obtained from the incubation experiments, which was probably because of the difference in water content of soil between the incubation and leaching experiments.

Additional keywords: CDE (convection disperion equation), DCD decay rate, incubation, leaching experiment, ammonium.


Blackmore LC , Searle PL , Daly BK (1987) Methods for chemical analysis of soils. NZ Soil Bureau Scientific Report No. 80.

Bolan NS, Saggar S, Singh J (2004) The role of inhibitors in mitigating nitrogen losses in grazed pasture. New Zealand Soil News 42,

Cookson WR, Cornforth IS (2002) Dicyandiamide slows nitrification in diary cattle urine patches: effects on the soil solution composition, soil pH and pasture yield. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 34, 1461–1465.
CrossRef |

Cowie JD (1978) Soils and Agriculture of Kairanga Country, North Island, New Zealand. New Zealand Soil Bureau Bulletin 33 DSIR.

Di HJ, Cameron KC (2002a) Nitrate leaching in temperate agroecosystems: sources, factors and mitigating strategies. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 64, 237–256.
CrossRef |

Di HJ, Cameron KC (2002b) The use of a nitrification inhibitor, dicyandiamide (DCD), to decrease nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions in a simulated grazed and irrigated grassland. Soil Use and Management 18, 395–403.
CrossRef |

Di HJ, Cameron KC (2004) Effects of the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide on potassium, magnesium and calcium leaching in grazed grassland. Soil Use and Management 20, 2–7.
CrossRef |

van Genuchten MTH , Wierenga PJ (1986) Solute dispersion coefficients and retardation factors. In ‘Methods of soil analysis. Part I. Physical and mineralogical methods’. Agronomy No. 9, 2nd edn (Ed. A Klute) pp. 1025–1054. (ASA: Madison, WI)

Grundmann GL, Renault P, Rosso L, Bardin L (1995) Differential effects of soil water content and temperature on nitrification and aeration. Soil Science Society of America Journal 59, 1342–1349.

Hallinger PR, Wallnöfer PR, Goldbach H, Amberger A (1990) Several aspects of bacterial dicyandiamide degradation. Die Naturwissenschaften 77, 332–334.
CrossRef |

Irigoyen I, Muro J, Azpilikueta M, Aparicio-Tejo A, Lamsfus C (2003) Ammonium oxidation kinetics in the presence of nitrification inhibitors DCD and DMPP at various temperatures. Australian Journal of Soil Research 41, 1177–1183.
CrossRef |

Iskandar IK, Selim HM (1981) Modelling nitrogen transport and transformations in soils: 2. Validation. Soil Science 131, 303–312.
CrossRef |

Jury WA , Gardner WR , Gardner WH (1991) ‘Soil physics.’ 5th edn (John Wiley and Sons, Inc.: New York)

Keeney DR (1980) Factors affecting the persistence and bioactivity of nitrification inhibitors. In ‘Nitrification inhibitors-potentials and limitations’. (Eds M Stelly, JJ Meisinger, GW Randall, ML Vitosh, DM Kral) pp. 33–46. (American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America: Madison, WI)

Kumar V, Wagenet RJ (1984) Urease activity and kinetics of urea transformation in soils. Soil Science 137, 263–269.

Kutzova RS, Tribis Zh M, Mikhaleva LV, Smirnova VF (1993) Influence of nitrification inhibitors on microbiological processes of the nitrogen cycle in the soil. Eurasian Soil Science 25, 68–84.

McCarty GW, Bremner JM (1989) Laboratory evaluation of dicyandiamide as a soil nitrification inhibitor. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 20, 2049–2065.

Puttanna K, Nanje Gowda NM, Prakasa Rao EVS (1999) Effect of concentration, temperature, moisture, liming and organic matter on the efficacy of the nitrification inhibitors benzotriazole, o-nitrophenol, m-nitroaniline and dicyandiamide. Nutrient Cylcing in Agroecosystems 54, 251–257.
CrossRef |

Rajbanshi SS, Benckiser G, Ottow JCG (1992) Effects of concentration, incubation temperature, and repeated applications on degradation kinetics of dicyandiamide (DCD) in model experiments with a silt loam soil. Biology and Fertility of Soils 13, 61–64.
CrossRef |

Rodgers GA, Penny A, Hewit MV (1985) Effect of nitrification inhibitors on uptake of mineralised nitrogen and on yield of winter cereals grown on sandy soil after ploughing old grassland. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 36, 915–924.
CrossRef |

Slangen JHG, Kerkhoff P (1984) Nitrification inhibitors in agriculture and horticulture: a literature review. Fertilizer Research 5, 1–76.
CrossRef |

Thomas SM, Ledgard SF, Francis GS (2005) Improving estimates of nitrate leaching for quantifying New Zealand’s indirect nitrous oxide emissions. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 73, 213–226.
CrossRef |

Tillman RW, Scotter DR (1991) Movement of solutes associated with intermittent soil water flow. II. Nitrogen and cations. Australian Journal of Soil Research 29, 185–196.
CrossRef |

Vilsmeier K (1979) Kolorimetrische Bestimmung von Dicyandiamide Böden Zeitschrift für.  Pflanzernaehrung und Bodenkunde 142, 792–798.
CrossRef |

Wagenet RJ, Biggar JW, Nielsen DR (1977) Tracing the transformations of urea fertiliser during leaching. Soil Science Society of America Journal 41, 896–902.

Williamson JC, Menneer JC, Tortrens RS (1996) Impact of dicyandiamide on the internal nitrogen cycle of a volcanic, silt loam soil receiving effluent. Applied Soil Ecology 4, 39–48.
CrossRef |

Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (13)