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Nitrogen dynamics after slurry application as affected by anaerobic digestion, biochar and a nitrification inhibitor

Frick, Hanna; Efosa, Norah; Oberson, Astrid; Krause, Hans-Martin; Nägele, Hans-Jpachim; Frossard, Emmanuel and Bünemann, Else Katrin (2023) Nitrogen dynamics after slurry application as affected by anaerobic digestion, biochar and a nitrification inhibitor. Soil Use and Management, online, pp. 1-18.

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Document available online at: https://bsssjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/sum.12953


Animal manures are valuable multi-nutrient fertilizers, but their short-term nitrogen (N) use efficiency (NUE) by plants is low, bearing the potential of harmful N losses to the environment, such as nitrate (
) leaching. To develop strategies to increase the NUE of cattle slurry, a comprehensive understanding of slurry N dynamics in the soil–plant system is needed. In a 57-day microcosm experiment in the greenhouse, we assessed the effect of different slurry treatments on slurry N turnover in the soil and its uptake by ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum var. Westerwoldicum). Employing a two-factorial design, 15N cattle slurry (SLU), 15N anaerobically digested cattle slurry (SLA), and 15N anaerobically digested cattle slurry plus biochar (SLA+) were combined with and without the nitrification inhibitor 3,4-dimethyl-1H-pyrazole monophosphate (DMPP). As references, a mineral fertilizer (MIN) and an unfertilised treatment (N0) were included. The 15N recovery, hence NUE, in plant biomass was higher for SLA than for SLU, while recovery in soil at 55 days after set-up showed an opposite trend, with over 45% of N from SLU still being recovered in soil. DMPP and biochar only marginally affected NUE and fertilizer N recovery in soil. Although 15N recovery in soil was highest for SLU, residual N leaching from SLU was low (<1% of added N). We attribute this to the limited presence of slurry N in mineral forms at this point of time, with the majority being stored in the non-microbial organic soil N pool. Leaching of residual N from MIN was significantly higher for MIN than for SLU, while SLA and SLA+ ranged in between. Overall, anaerobic digestion appeared suitable for increasing NUE of cattle slurry, but further investigations under field conditions are necessary in order to assess its potential to reduce nitrate leaching in the long-term.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:15N labelling, digestate, DMPP, nitrate leaching, NUE, soil N dynamics, Abacus, FiBL10106, NitroGäu
Agrovoc keywords:
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality
Research affiliation: Switzerland > ZHAW
Switzerland > ETHZ - Agrarwissenschaften
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Soil > Soil quality
Deposited By: Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau, FiBL
ID Code:51786
Deposited On:09 Oct 2023 13:44
Last Modified:05 Dec 2023 10:11
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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