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Confirmation of co-denitrification in grazed grassland

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 18:31 authored by Diana SelbieDiana Selbie, Gary Lanigan, Ronald Laughlin, Hong Di, James Moir, Keith Cameron, Timothy Clough, Catherine Watson, James Grant, Cathal Somers, Karl Richards
Pasture-based livestock systems are often associated with losses of reactive forms of nitrogen (N) to the environment. Research has focused on losses to air and water due to the health, economic and environmental impacts of reactive N. Di-nitrogen (N2) emissions are still poorly characterized, both in terms of the processes involved and their magnitude, due to financial and methodological constraints. Relatively few studies have focused on quantifying N2 losses in vivo and fewer still have examined the relative contribution of the different N2 emission processes, particularly in grazed pastures. We used a combination of a high 1525 N isotopic enrichment of applied N with a high precision of determination of 1526 N isotopic enrichment by isotope-ratio mass spectrometry to measure N2 emissions in the field. We report that 55.8 g N m-27 2 (95%, CI 38 to 77 g m-228 ) was emitted as N2 by the process of co-denitrification in pastoral soils over 123 days following urine deposition (100 g N m-2), compared to only 1.1 g N m-2 29 (0.4 to 2.8 g m-230 ) from denitrification. This study provides strong evidence for co-denitrification as a major N2 production pathway, which has significant implications for understanding the N budgets of pastoral ecosystems.


Rights statement

© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.


  • English

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Macmillan Publishers Limited

Journal title

Scientific Reports




Selbie, D. R., Lanigan, G. J., Laughlin, R. J., Di, H. J., Moir, J. L., Cameron, K. C., ... Richards, K. G. (2015). Confirmation of co-denitrification in grazed grassland. Scientific Reports, 5, 17361. doi:10.1038/srep17361

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