Special Issue "Denitrification in Agricultural Soils"

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Earth Sciences and Geography".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Micòl Mastrocicco
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Italy
Interests: water resources management and protection in the coastal plains, with a focus on water and nitrogen balance at basin scale and salinization processes; characterization and monitoring of dissolved contaminants in aquifers via different assessment methods; implementation of density-dependent groundwater flow models and reactive transport models
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The aim of this Special Issue of Applied Sciences is to publish papers that outline the state-of-the-art of the role of denitrification in agricultural soils. This Special Issue will cover topics of both measuring and modeling denitrification rates. Emphasis will be put on scaling up from micro and meso scales to plot and landscape perspectives. Advances in modeling denitrification in upland, lowland, freshwater, and salinized agricultural environments will be addressed. The aim of this Special Issue is to focus on new challenges linked to denitrification in agricultural soils, like, for example, greenhouse gasses emissions; anammox, DNRA and denitrification roles in the terrestrial nitrogen cycle; incomplete denitrification effects on surface and ground waters; best practices to boost field denitrification rates. Priority will be given to papers using a combination of agronomic, ecological, hydrogeological, and geochemical data and to their conjunctive use to monitor, assess and quantify relevant processes in agricultural systems.

Prof. Micòl Mastrocicco
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Nitrogen cycle
  • agricultural practice
  • soil organic carbon
  • leaching, greenhouse gasses
  • numerical modeling
  • isotopes pairing technique
  • surface water-groundwater interaction

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Special Issue: Denitrification in Agricultural Soils
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(11), 3852; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10113852 - 01 Jun 2020
Abstract
Denitrification, the main microbial reduction process of nitrate to the inert dinitrogen gas or to reactive gases such as nitric oxide and nitrous oxide [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Denitrification in Agricultural Soils)

Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Importance of Incorporating Denitrification in the Assessment of Groundwater Vulnerability
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(7), 2328; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10072328 - 28 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Human activities are deeply connected with groundwater reservoirs, so protecting them from pollution has become a priority in many regions of the world. Nitrate is considered the main groundwater pollutant since it is directly linked to many human activities. Agricultural activities and domestic [...] Read more.
Human activities are deeply connected with groundwater reservoirs, so protecting them from pollution has become a priority in many regions of the world. Nitrate is considered the main groundwater pollutant since it is directly linked to many human activities. Agricultural activities and domestic wastewater have been identified as the main sources of nitrate in groundwater. Nevertheless, there are some natural processes that can mitigate nitrate pollution. Together with dilution processes, the degradation of nitrate through denitrification has been acknowledge as a process that can potentially reduce nitrogen loads, in both deep and shallow aquifers. Usually these processes were not properly quantified in vulnerability assessment methods, until the introduction of LOS indices. In this study, the application of the LOS indices on 4 agricultural areas is discussed, highlighting how the LOS indices can identify portions of the landscape with higher potential denitrification and how they directly enhance the groundwater vulnerability assessment. Previous studies have shown that LOS indices are a valuable tool for proper vulnerability assessment to nitrate, however they need to be coupled with other parameters that also describe nitrate behavior in groundwater. The SINTACS-SVN and DRASTIC-PA methods that include the LOS indices, were applied for the first time in the Epanomi coastal area to evaluate the reliably of the assessment and, despite the different classes range and the weights applied, similar groundwater vulnerability assessment maps were obtained. The nitrate vulnerability maps were comparable with the observed nitrate concentrations and were found to be highly comparable with original LOS maps. Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that vulnerability methods are only screening tools and groundwater quality observations are pivotal information for environmental management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Denitrification in Agricultural Soils)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
In Search for the Missing Nitrogen: Closing the Budget to Assess the Role of Denitrification in Agricultural Watersheds
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(6), 2136; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10062136 - 21 Mar 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Although representing a paramount mechanism against nitrogen excess in agricultural landscapes, soil denitrification is still a largely unknown term in nitrogen balances at the watershed scale. In the present work, a comprehensive investigation of nitrogen sources and sinks in agricultural soils and waters [...] Read more.
Although representing a paramount mechanism against nitrogen excess in agricultural landscapes, soil denitrification is still a largely unknown term in nitrogen balances at the watershed scale. In the present work, a comprehensive investigation of nitrogen sources and sinks in agricultural soils and waters was performed with the aim of gaining insights into the relevance of soil denitrification in a highly farmed sub-basin of the Po River delta (Northern Italy). Agricultural statistics, water quality datasets, and results of laboratory experiments targeting nitrogen fluxes in soils were combined to set up a detailed nitrogen budget along the terrestrial–freshwater continuum. The soil nitrogen budget was not closed, with inputs exceeding outputs by 72 kg N·ha−1·year−1, highlighting a potential high risk of nitrate contamination. However, extensive monitoring showed a general scarcity of mineral nitrogen forms in both shallow aquifers and soils. The present study confirmed the importance of denitrification, representing ~37% of the total nitrogen inputs, as the leading process of nitrate removal in heavily fertilized fine-texture soils prone to waterlogged conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Denitrification in Agricultural Soils)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
15N Natural Abundance, Nitrogen and Carbon Pools in Soil-Sorghum System Amended with Natural and NH4+-Enriched Zeolitites
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(21), 4524; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9214524 - 25 Oct 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The use of rocks containing high amounts of natural zeolites (zeolitites) as soil amendment has been found as a valuable method for increasing agriculture sustainability. However, the potentialities and the effects of zeolitites on the biogeochemical cycles of nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) [...] Read more.
The use of rocks containing high amounts of natural zeolites (zeolitites) as soil amendment has been found as a valuable method for increasing agriculture sustainability. However, the potentialities and the effects of zeolitites on the biogeochemical cycles of nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) have still not been clearly addressed in the literature. The objective of this study was therefore to investigate the N and C pools and 15N distribution in an agricultural soil amended with both natural and NH4+-enriched zeolitites with the aim of understanding their effects on the soil-plant system, during sorghum cultivation, under fertilization reductions. Zeolitites were applied to an agricultural soil both at natural state (5 and 15 kg m−2) and in an enriched state with NH4+ ions from pig slurry (7 kg m−2). Both zeolitites at natural and enriched state increased soil cation exchange capacity and affected microbial biomass, causing an initial decrease of microbial C and N and then a possible increase of fungal population. N-NO3 content was lower in natural zeolitite treatments, that lead to a lower NO3 availability for denitrifying bacteria. Zeolitites slightly affected the fixed N-NH4+ pool. δ15N turnover indicated that N from NH4+-enriched zeolitites remained in the soil until the growing season and that fertilizers partially substituted the fixed pool. Leaf δ15N content indicated that plants assimilated N from NH4+-enriched zeolitites and evidenced a higher fertilization recovery in natural zeolitite treatments. Organic C tended to be higher in all zeolitite treatment rhizospheres. In soils amended with zeolitites at natural state (at both application rates) sorghum yield was similar (+3.7%) to that obtained in the control while it was higher (+13.9%) in the plot amended with NH4+-enriched zeolitites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Denitrification in Agricultural Soils)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Nitrogen Budget of Short Rotation Forests Amended with Digestate in Highly Permeable Soils
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(20), 4326; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9204326 - 15 Oct 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Bioenergy crops are a promising option for integrating fossil fuels and achieving European environmental targets. Among these, Short Rotation Forestry (SRF) crops and biogas plants have been considered an opportunity for sustainable agricultural development due to their environmental benefits. In this case study, [...] Read more.
Bioenergy crops are a promising option for integrating fossil fuels and achieving European environmental targets. Among these, Short Rotation Forestry (SRF) crops and biogas plants have been considered an opportunity for sustainable agricultural development due to their environmental benefits. In this case study, an N balance was performed by comparing an SRF Platanus hispanica plantation with a permanent meadow, both located in an area with highly permeable soils, using two different amounts of organic fertilization (digestate) for each system (0, 170 and 340 kg-N ha−1 y−1). The results obtained indicate that, in the presence of highly permeable soils, the SRF is not effective in retaining N during the initial stage of growth, despite the use of a suitable application rate of digestate. Higher N leaching rates occurred in SRF crops compared to permanent meadows. Moreover, the N potential removal rate did not vary proportionally with the applied dose of digestate. To avoid N leaching excess, the annual applied N should be not only within 170 kg-N ha−1 y−1 (Nitrate Directive legal limits for nitrate vulnerable zone) but should also follow precise and accurate distribution practices, like: controlled grassing between the tree rows and soil’s minimum tillage immediately after the digestate spreading. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Denitrification in Agricultural Soils)
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Open AccessArticle
Identification and Characterization of Janthinobacterium svalbardensis F19, a Novel Low-C/N-Tolerant Denitrifying Bacterium
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(9), 1937; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9091937 - 11 May 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Herein, we isolated Janthinobacterium svalbardensis F19 from sludge sediment. Strain F19 can simultaneously execute heterotrophic nitrification and aerobic denitrification under aerobic conditions. The organism exhibited efficient nitrogen removal at a C/N ratio of 2:1, with an average removal rate of 0.88 mg/L/h, without [...] Read more.
Herein, we isolated Janthinobacterium svalbardensis F19 from sludge sediment. Strain F19 can simultaneously execute heterotrophic nitrification and aerobic denitrification under aerobic conditions. The organism exhibited efficient nitrogen removal at a C/N ratio of 2:1, with an average removal rate of 0.88 mg/L/h, without nitrite accumulation. At a C/N ratio of 2, an initial pH of 10.0, a culturing temperature of 25 °C, and sodium acetate as the carbon source, the removal efficiencies of ammonium, nitrate, nitrite, and hydroxylamine were 96.44%, 92.32%, 97.46%, and 96.69%, respectively. The maximum removal rates for domestic wastewater treatment for ammonia and total nitrogen were 98.22% and 92.49%, respectively. Gene-specific PCR amplification further confirmed the presence of napA, hao, and nirS genes, which may contribute to the heterotrophic nitrification and aerobic denitrification capacity of strain F19. These results indicate that this bacterium has potential for efficient nitrogen removal at low C/N ratios from domestic wastewater. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Denitrification in Agricultural Soils)
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