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The influence of nitrogen on the decomposition of crop residues in the soil




Lueken, H., author
Hutcheon, W. L., author
Paul, Eldor A., author
Agricultural Institute of Canada, publisher

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Additions of mineral nitrogen accelerated the initial decomposition rate of incorporated wheat straw, alfalfa hay and glucose when added to two soils differing widely in organic matter content. However, in the more advanced stages of decomposition the reverse was true, and over the total incubation period larger amounts of carbon were maintained in soils supplemented with nitrogen. In contrast to all other residues used, nitrogen additions to cellulose effected a continuous and substantial increase in residue decomposition. This was the only residue for which the mineralization of soil organic matter did not supply nitrogen adequate for its decomposition within 120 days. The very slow rate of decomposition of sphagnum peat could be attributed to its high lignin content, rather than to the nitrogen levels. Sulphacetolysis analysis, which measures the non-humified carbon, indicated the feasibility of separating non-humified crop residues from the more complex soil organic matter. Addition of organic amendments thus resulted in a drop in the soil humification quotient. Nitrogen resulted in the retention of a significantly higher percentage of the added residue, without a drop in the humification quotient for the high organic matter Melfort soil. Residue applications to soils produced a significant improvement of structural development, especially in the low organic matter soil (Arborfield).


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organic carbon
CO2 production


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