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
Cereals use chemical defenses in a multifunctional manner against different herbivores
06.12.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
Can rice filter water from ag fields?
05.12.2018 | American Society of Agronomy
An international research team including astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has combined radio telescopes from five continents to prove the existence of a narrow stream of material, a so-called jet, emerging from the only gravitational wave event involving two neutron stars observed so far. With its high sensitivity and excellent performance, the 100-m radio telescope in Effelsberg played an important role in the observations.
In August 2017, two neutron stars were observed colliding, producing gravitational waves that were detected by the American LIGO and European Virgo detectors....
Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology for use in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionize the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer FEP together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.
The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of...
For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.
The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...
Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens
Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...
Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light
When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...
11.02.2019 | Event News
30.01.2019 | Event News
16.01.2019 | Event News
22.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
22.02.2019 | Materials Sciences
22.02.2019 | Life Sciences