Near-Continuous Isotopic Characterization of Soil N2O Fluxes from Maize Production

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Robert P Anex and Jordi Francis Clar, University of Wisconsin Madison, Biological Systems Engineering, Madison, WI, United States
Isotopomer ratios of N2O and especially intramolecular 15N site preference (SP) have been proposed as indicators of the sources of N2O and for providing insight into the contributions of different microbial processes. Current knowledge, however, is mainly based on pure culture studies and laboratory flask studies using mass spectrometric analysis. Recent development of laser spectroscopic methods has made possible high-precision, in situ measurements. We present results from a maize production field in Columbia County, Wisconsin, USA. Data were collected from the fertilized maize phase of a maize-soybean rotation. N2O mole fractions and isotopic composition were determined using an automatic gas flux measurement system comprising a set of custom-designed automatic chambers, circulating gas paths and an OA-ICOS N2O Isotope Analyzer (Los Gatos Research, Inc., Model 914-0027). The instrument system allows for up to 15 user programmable soil gas chambers. Wide dynamic range and parts-per-billion precision of OA-ICOS laser absorption instrument allows for extremely rapid estimation of N2O fluxes. Current operational settings provide measurements of N2O and its isotopes every 20 seconds with a precision of 0.1 ± 0.050 PPB. Comparison of measurements from four chambers (two between row and two in-row) show very different aggregate N2O flux, but SP values suggest similar sources from nitrifier denitrification and incomplete bacterial denitrification. SP values reported are being measured throughout the current growing season. To date, the majority of values are consistent with an origin from bacterial denitrification and coincide with periods of high water filled pore space.