There are concerns that fertilizers used on lawns may also contribute to these problems. All of the lawns in the United States cover an area almost as large as Florida, making turfgrass our largest ‘crop’ and lawn fertilizer use a legitimate issue.
In a study funded by the National Science Foundation Ecosystem Studies and Long Term Ecological Research programs, researchers from Cornell University and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies have utilized recent technological advances to measure gaseous nitrogen emissions in home lawns.
In the past, scientists have conducted nitrogen input-output studies on lawns to determine how much nitrogen is taken up by vegetation or deposited in soils, and how much is lost. These studies have rarely provided any accurate data, and the ‘missing’ nitrogen has usually been attributed to denitrification, a process that removes nitrogen from soils by converting nitrate into nitrogen gas.
High soil moisture, low soil oxygen, and sufficient nitrogen availability are all factors that lead to denitrification, which occurs mostly in small areas during brief time periods. This makes it hard to pinpoint peak activity, and measure the process outside of the lab. Additionally, because there is so much nitrogen gas in our atmosphere, it has been difficult for researchers to detect the nitrogen gas produced by denitrification.
In this study, researchers overcame these challenges to measure rates of denitrification from residential lawns in Baltimore, MD. They found that denitrification is an important pathway for removing excess nitrogen from lawns. Nitrogen removals by denitrification were equivalent to 15% of annual fertilizer inputs to the study lawns. The majority of this nitrogen removal occurred over a small time period when soil conditions were favorable to high rates of denitrification. While small amounts of nitrogen were transported to groundwater and streams, the majority of fertilizer nitrogen inputs were retained in lawn soils.
The results from this study are encouraging, but much more work needs to be done to apply the results to a wider range of soil, climatic, and lawn management conditions. While most of the nitrogen losses from denitrification were in the form of nitrogen gas, the results suggest the possibility of significant losses as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide. Continuing excessive fertilizer applications will likely saturate soil storage capacity, resulting in the harmful transfer of nitrogen to surface and ground water.
The complete results from this study can be found in the November/December issue of Journal of Environmental Quality.
The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at https://www.soils.org/publications/jeq/abstracts/40/6/1932
The Journal of Environmental Quality is a peer-reviewed, international journal of environmental quality in natural and agricultural ecosystems published six times a year by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). The Journal of Environmental Quality covers various aspects of anthropogenic impacts on the environment, including terrestrial, atmospheric, and aquatic systems.
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) www.agronomy.org, is a scientific society helping its 8,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy by supporting professional growth and science policy initiatives, and by providing quality, research-based publications and a variety of member services.
James Giese | Newswise Science News
Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State
How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy