Nitrogen retention efficiency and nitrogen losses of a managed and phytodiverse temperate grassland

2014 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Nitrogen retention efficiency and nitrogen losses of a managed and phytodiverse temperate grassland​
Hoeft, I. ; Keuter, A. ; Quiñones, C. M. ; Schmidt-Walter, P. ; Veldkamp, E.   & Corre, M. D. ​ (2014) 
Basic and Applied Ecology15(3) pp. 207​-218​.​ DOI: 

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Hoeft, Ina ; Keuter, Andreas ; Quiñones, Cecille M. ; Schmidt-Walter, Paul ; Veldkamp, Edzo ; Corre, Marife D. 
Maintaining nitrogen retention efficiency (NRE) is crucial in minimizing N losses when intensifying management of temperate grasslands. Our aim was to evaluate how grassland management practices and sward compositions affect NRE (1 − N losses/soil available N), defined as the efficiency with which soil available N is retained in an ecosystem. A three-factorial grassland management experiment was established with two fertilization treatments (without and combined N, phosphorus and potassium fertilization), two mowing frequencies (cut once and thrice per year) and three sward compositions (control, monocot- and dicot-enhanced swards). We measured N losses as leaching and nitrous oxide emissions, and soil available N as gross N mineralization rates. Fertilization increased N losses due to increased nitrification and decreased microbial N immobilization, and consequently decreased NRE. Intensive mowing partly dampened high N losses following fertilization. Sward compositions influenced NRE but not N losses: control swards that developed for decades under extensive management had the highest NRE, whereas monocot-enhanced sward had the lowest NRE. NRE was highly correlated with microbial NH4+ immobilization and microbial biomass and only marginally correlated with plant N uptake, underlining the importance of microbial N retention in the soil-plant system. Microbial N retention is reflected in NRE but not in indices commonly used to reflect plant response. NRE was able to capture the effects of sward composition and fertilization whereas N losses were only sensitive to fertilization; thus, NRE is a better index when evaluating environmental sustainability of sward compositions and management practices of grasslands.
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Basic and Applied Ecology 
Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Büsgen-Institut ; Abteilung Ökopedologie der Tropen und Subtropen 



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