A soil organic nitrogen fraction that reduces the need for nitrogen fertilization

R. L. Mulvaney, S. A. Khan, R. G. Hoeft, H. M. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The need to estimate mineralization has long been recognized in making N fertilizer recommendations, but little progress has thus far been made in identifying a specific fraction of soil organic N that affects crop responsiveness to N fertilization. After eliminating major defects in the methodology employed to fractionate the N in soil hydrolysates, a study was conducted to compare N-distribution analyses for soils differing in N-fertilizer responsiveness by corn (Zea mays L.). Hydrolyses with 6 M HCl were performed on composite soil samples (0-30 cm) that had been collected in late March or early April of 1990, 1991, or 1992, from 18 sites in a N-response study involving 75 site-years throughout Illinois with different soil types, crop rotations, and N management practices. Concentrations of amino sugar N were 33 to 1000% greater (P < 0.001) for 11 nonresponsive than for seven responsive soils, whereas no consistent difference was observed in their content of total hydrolyzable N, hydrolyzable NH4-N, or amino acid N. Upon aerobic incubation for 3 mo with biweekly leaching, production of (NH4 + NO3 + NO2)-N averaged 260% greater for three nonresponsive soils than for two responsive soils, and was accompanied by a net decrease in amino sugar N but not in amino acid N. Soil concentrations of amino sugar N were very highly correlated with check-plot yield (r = 0.79***) and fertilizer-N response (r = -0.82***). On the basis of amino sugar N, all 18 soils were classified correctly as responsive (<200 mg kg-1) or nonresponsive (>250 mg kg-1) to N fertilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1164-1172
Number of pages9
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A soil organic nitrogen fraction that reduces the need for nitrogen fertilization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this