Baseline Soil Nitrogen Mineralization: Measurement and Interpretation

Baseline N mineralization refers to plant-available nitrogen release that accompanies the decomposition of soil organic matter. The rate of baseline soil N mineralization is governed by the quantity and quality of soil organic matter, as modified by soil moisture and temperature. Baseline soil N mineralization typically supplies about half of crop N uptake. Soils that have been heavily manured for many years or are naturally very high in soil organic matter can supply most of the N required for crop production. Several laboratory tests for N mineralization are available, but most are useful only as measures of relative changes in soil health, not for adjusting N fertilizer rates.

EM 9281    Published March 2020    16 pages


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