Earthworm-induced N mineralization in fertilized grassland increases both N2O emission and crop-N uptake

I. M. Lubbers, L. Brussaard, Wilfred Otten, J. W. Van Groenigen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Earthworms can increase plant nitrogen (N) availability by stimulating mineralization of organic matter. However, recent studies show that they can also cause elevated emission of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). It is unclear to what extent these two effects occur in fertilized grasslands, where earthworm densities are typically greatest. The aims of this study were therefore to (i) quantify the effects of earthworm activity on N uptake and N2O emissions in fertilized grasslands and (ii) link these effects to earthworm functional groups. In a 73-day factorial mesocosm experiment, combinations of Lumbricus rubellus (Lr, epigeic), Aporrectodea longa (Al, anecic) and Aporrectodea caliginosa (Ac, endogeic) individuals were introduced into columns with grass growing on a fertilized (250 kg N ha−1) loamy soil. Introduction of Lr resulted in 50.8% (P <0.001) larger N2O emissions and 5.4% (P = 0.032) larger grass biomass. Grass-N uptake increased from 172 to 188 kg N ha−1 in the presence of Lr (P <0.001), from 176 to 183 kg N ha−1 in the presence of Ac (P = 0.001), and from 168 to 199 kg N ha−1 when all three earthworm species were present (P = 0.006). Lr increased soil NH4+-N concentrations (P = 0.010), further indicating enhanced mineralization of N caused by earthworm activity. We conclude that the previously observed beneficial effect of earthworm presence on plant-N availability has a negative side-effect: increased emissions of the mineralized N as N2O.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-161
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2011

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earthworms
earthworm
nitrous oxide
mineralization
grasslands
grasses
grassland
grass
uptake mechanisms
soil
Aporrectodea longa
Lumbricus rubellus
Aporrectodea caliginosa
loam soils
greenhouse gas emissions
soil organic matter
adverse effects
biomass
nitrogen
crops

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Lubbers, I. M.; Brussaard, L.; Otten, Wilfred; Van Groenigen, J. W. / Earthworm-induced N mineralization in fertilized grassland increases both N2O emission and crop-N uptake.

In: European Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 62, No. 1, 02.2011, p. 152-161.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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title = "Earthworm-induced N mineralization in fertilized grassland increases both N2O emission and crop-N uptake",
abstract = "Earthworms can increase plant nitrogen (N) availability by stimulating mineralization of organic matter. However, recent studies show that they can also cause elevated emission of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). It is unclear to what extent these two effects occur in fertilized grasslands, where earthworm densities are typically greatest. The aims of this study were therefore to (i) quantify the effects of earthworm activity on N uptake and N2O emissions in fertilized grasslands and (ii) link these effects to earthworm functional groups. In a 73-day factorial mesocosm experiment, combinations of Lumbricus rubellus (Lr, epigeic), Aporrectodea longa (Al, anecic) and Aporrectodea caliginosa (Ac, endogeic) individuals were introduced into columns with grass growing on a fertilized (250 kg N ha−1) loamy soil. Introduction of Lr resulted in 50.8% (P <0.001) larger N2O emissions and 5.4% (P = 0.032) larger grass biomass. Grass-N uptake increased from 172 to 188 kg N ha−1 in the presence of Lr (P <0.001), from 176 to 183 kg N ha−1 in the presence of Ac (P = 0.001), and from 168 to 199 kg N ha−1 when all three earthworm species were present (P = 0.006). Lr increased soil NH4+-N concentrations (P = 0.010), further indicating enhanced mineralization of N caused by earthworm activity. We conclude that the previously observed beneficial effect of earthworm presence on plant-N availability has a negative side-effect: increased emissions of the mineralized N as N2O.",
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Earthworm-induced N mineralization in fertilized grassland increases both N2O emission and crop-N uptake. / Lubbers, I. M.; Brussaard, L.; Otten, Wilfred; Van Groenigen, J. W.

In: European Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 62, No. 1, 02.2011, p. 152-161.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Earthworm-induced N mineralization in fertilized grassland increases both N2O emission and crop-N uptake

AU - Lubbers,I. M.

AU - Brussaard,L.

AU - Otten,Wilfred

AU - Van Groenigen,J. W.

PY - 2011/2

Y1 - 2011/2

N2 - Earthworms can increase plant nitrogen (N) availability by stimulating mineralization of organic matter. However, recent studies show that they can also cause elevated emission of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). It is unclear to what extent these two effects occur in fertilized grasslands, where earthworm densities are typically greatest. The aims of this study were therefore to (i) quantify the effects of earthworm activity on N uptake and N2O emissions in fertilized grasslands and (ii) link these effects to earthworm functional groups. In a 73-day factorial mesocosm experiment, combinations of Lumbricus rubellus (Lr, epigeic), Aporrectodea longa (Al, anecic) and Aporrectodea caliginosa (Ac, endogeic) individuals were introduced into columns with grass growing on a fertilized (250 kg N ha−1) loamy soil. Introduction of Lr resulted in 50.8% (P <0.001) larger N2O emissions and 5.4% (P = 0.032) larger grass biomass. Grass-N uptake increased from 172 to 188 kg N ha−1 in the presence of Lr (P <0.001), from 176 to 183 kg N ha−1 in the presence of Ac (P = 0.001), and from 168 to 199 kg N ha−1 when all three earthworm species were present (P = 0.006). Lr increased soil NH4+-N concentrations (P = 0.010), further indicating enhanced mineralization of N caused by earthworm activity. We conclude that the previously observed beneficial effect of earthworm presence on plant-N availability has a negative side-effect: increased emissions of the mineralized N as N2O.

AB - Earthworms can increase plant nitrogen (N) availability by stimulating mineralization of organic matter. However, recent studies show that they can also cause elevated emission of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). It is unclear to what extent these two effects occur in fertilized grasslands, where earthworm densities are typically greatest. The aims of this study were therefore to (i) quantify the effects of earthworm activity on N uptake and N2O emissions in fertilized grasslands and (ii) link these effects to earthworm functional groups. In a 73-day factorial mesocosm experiment, combinations of Lumbricus rubellus (Lr, epigeic), Aporrectodea longa (Al, anecic) and Aporrectodea caliginosa (Ac, endogeic) individuals were introduced into columns with grass growing on a fertilized (250 kg N ha−1) loamy soil. Introduction of Lr resulted in 50.8% (P <0.001) larger N2O emissions and 5.4% (P = 0.032) larger grass biomass. Grass-N uptake increased from 172 to 188 kg N ha−1 in the presence of Lr (P <0.001), from 176 to 183 kg N ha−1 in the presence of Ac (P = 0.001), and from 168 to 199 kg N ha−1 when all three earthworm species were present (P = 0.006). Lr increased soil NH4+-N concentrations (P = 0.010), further indicating enhanced mineralization of N caused by earthworm activity. We conclude that the previously observed beneficial effect of earthworm presence on plant-N availability has a negative side-effect: increased emissions of the mineralized N as N2O.

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DO - 10.1111/j.1365-2389.2010.01313.x

M3 - Article

VL - 62

SP - 152

EP - 161

JO - European Journal of Soil Science

T2 - European Journal of Soil Science

JF - European Journal of Soil Science

SN - 1351-0754

IS - 1

ER -