Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nitrogen fertilizers' impact on lawn soils

Date:
November 11, 2011
Source:
American Society of Agronomy
Summary:
Nitrogen fertilizers from farm fields often end up in aquatic ecosystems, resulting in water quality problems, such as toxic algae and underwater 'dead zones'. There are concerns that fertilizers used on lawns may also contribute to these problems. All of the lawns in the United States cover an area almost as large as Florida, making turfgrass our largest 'crop' and lawn fertilizer use a legitimate issue. In a new study, researchers have utilized recent technological advances to measure gaseous nitrogen emissions in home lawns.

Nitrogen fertilizers from farm fields often end up in aquatic ecosystems, resulting in water quality problems, such as toxic algae and underwater 'dead zones'. There are concerns that fertilizers used on lawns may also contribute to these problems. All of the lawns in the United States cover an area almost as large as Florida, making turfgrass our largest 'crop' and lawn fertilizer use a legitimate issue.

Related Articles


In a study funded by the National Science Foundation Ecosystem Studies and Long Term Ecological Research programs, researchers from Cornell University and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies have utilized recent technological advances to measure gaseous nitrogen emissions in home lawns.

In the past, scientists have conducted nitrogen input-output studies on lawns to determine how much nitrogen is taken up by vegetation or deposited in soils, and how much is lost. These studies have rarely provided any accurate data, and the 'missing' nitrogen has usually been attributed to denitrification, a process that removes nitrogen from soils by converting nitrate into nitrogen gas.

High soil moisture, low soil oxygen, and sufficient nitrogen availability are all factors that lead to denitrification, which occurs mostly in small areas during brief time periods. This makes it hard to pinpoint peak activity, and measure the process outside of the lab. Additionally, because there is so much nitrogen gas in our atmosphere, it has been difficult for researchers to detect the nitrogen gas produced by denitrification.

In this study, researchers overcame these challenges to measure rates of denitrification from residential lawns in Baltimore, MD. They found that denitrification is an important pathway for removing excess nitrogen from lawns. Nitrogen removals by denitrification were equivalent to 15% of annual fertilizer inputs to the study lawns. The majority of this nitrogen removal occurred over a small time period when soil conditions were favorable to high rates of denitrification. While small amounts of nitrogen were transported to groundwater and streams, the majority of fertilizer nitrogen inputs were retained in lawn soils.

The results from this study are encouraging, but much more work needs to be done to apply the results to a wider range of soil, climatic, and lawn management conditions. While most of the nitrogen losses from denitrification were in the form of nitrogen gas, the results suggest the possibility of significant losses as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide. Continuing excessive fertilizer applications will likely saturate soil storage capacity, resulting in the harmful transfer of nitrogen to surface and ground water.

The complete results from this study can be found in the November/December issue of Journal of Environmental Quality.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Steve M. Raciti, Amy J. Burgin, Peter M. Groffman, David N. Lewis, Timothy J. Fahey. Denitrification in Suburban Lawn Soils. Journal of Environmental Quality, 2011; 40 (6): 1932-1940 DOI: 10.2134/jeq2011.0107

Cite This Page:

American Society of Agronomy. "Nitrogen fertilizers' impact on lawn soils." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111106151314.htm>.
American Society of Agronomy. (2011, November 11). Nitrogen fertilizers' impact on lawn soils. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111106151314.htm
American Society of Agronomy. "Nitrogen fertilizers' impact on lawn soils." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111106151314.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins