Straw amendment and nitrification inhibitor controlling N losses and immobilization in a soil cooling-warming experiment

Hao Chen, Christoph Rosinger, Sergey Blagodatsky, Rüdiger Reichel, Bo Li, Amit Kumar, Steffen Rothardt, Jie Luo, Nicolas Brüggemann, Henning Kage, Michael Bonkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


It is common practice in agriculture to apply high‑carbon amendments, e.g. straw, or nitrification inhibitors (NI) to reduce soil nitrogen (N) losses. However, little is known on the combined effects of straw and NI and how seasonal soil temperature variations further affect N immobilization. We conducted a 113-day mesocosm experiment with different levels of 15N-fertilizer application (N0: control; N1: 125 kg N ha−1; N2: 250 kg N ha−1) in an agricultural soil, amended with either wheat straw, NI or a combination of both in order to investigate N retention and loss from soil after a cooling-warming phase simulating a seasonal temperature shift, i.e., 30 days cooling phase at 7 °C and 10 days warming phase at 21 °C. Subsequently, soils were planted with barley as phytometers to study 15N-transfer to a following crop. Straw addition significantly reduced soil N-losses due to microbial N immobilization. Although carbon added as straw led to increased N2O emissions at high N fertilization, this was partly counterbalanced by NI. Soil cooling-warming strongly increased ammonification (+77 %), while nitrification was suppressed, and straw-induced microbial N immobilization dominated. N immobilized after straw addition was mineralized at the end of the experiment as indicated by structural equation models. Re-mineralization in N2 was sufficient, but still suboptimal in N0 and N1 at critical times of early barley growth. N-use efficiency of the 15N tracer decreased with fertilization intensity from 50 % in N1 to 35 % in N2, and straw amendment reduced NUE to 25 % at both fertilization rates. Straw amendment was most powerful in reducing N-losses (−41 %), in particular under variable soil temperature conditions, but NI enforced its effects by reducing N2O emission (−40 %) in N2 treatment. Sufficient N-fertilization coupled with straw application is required to adjust the timely re-mineralization of N for subsequent crops.

Original languageEnglish
Article number162007
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Apr 20 2023


  • N labelling
  • N immobilization
  • Nitrification
  • Nitrogen use efficiency
  • Soil microbial biomass
  • Temperature effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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