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Influence of Organic Amendment and Compaction on Nutrient Dynamics in a Saturated Saline-Sodic Soil from the Riparian Zone

Miller, J. J., E. Bremer and T. Curtis. 2016.

Abstract

Cattle grazing in wet riparian pastures may influence nutrient dynamics due to nutrient deposition in feces and urine, soil compaction, and vegetation loss. We conducted a lab incubation study with a saline-sodic riparian soil to study nutrient (N, P, S, Fe, Mn, Cu, and Zn) dynamics in soil pore water using Plant Root Simulator (PRS) probes and release of nutrients into the overlying ponded water during flooding. The treatment factors were organic amendment (manure, roots, and unamended control), compaction (compacted, uncompacted), and burial time (3, 7, and 14 d). Amendment treatment had the greatest impact on nutrient dynamics, followed by burial time, whereas compaction had little impact. The findings generally supported our hypothesis that organic amendments should first increase nitrate loss, then increase Mn mobility, then Fe mobility and associated release of P, and finally increase sulfate loss. Declines in nitrate due to amendment addition were small because nitrate was at low levels in all treatments due to high denitrification potential instead of being released to soil pore water or overlying water. Addition of organic amendment strongly increased Mn and Fe concentrations in overlying water and of adsorbed Fe on PRS probes but only increased Mn on PRS probes on Day 3 due to subsequent displacement from ion exchange membranes. Transport of P to overlying water was increased by organic amendment addition but less so for manure than roots despite higher P on PRS probes. The findings showed that saline-sodic soils in riparian zones are generally a nutrient source for P and are a nutrient sink for N as measured using PRS probes after 3 to 7 d of flooding.