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Nitrogen, Volume 2, Issue 2 (June 2021) – 12 articles

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Article
Comparison of Alum and Sulfuric Acid to Retain and Increase the Ammonium Content of Digestate Solids during Thermal Drying
Nitrogen 2021, 2(2), 287-297; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nitrogen2020019 - 10 Jun 2021
Viewed by 575
Abstract
Aluminum sulphate (alum, Al2(SO4)3·nH2O) has successfully been used to reduce ammonia loss from poultry litter, cattle feedlots and manure composting, but has not yet been utilized in the thermal drying process of digestate [...] Read more.
Aluminum sulphate (alum, Al2(SO4)3·nH2O) has successfully been used to reduce ammonia loss from poultry litter, cattle feedlots and manure composting, but has not yet been utilized in the thermal drying process of digestate solids. The objectives of the present study were to evaluate the effects of alum addition on ammonium nitrogen (NH4+-N) content and phosphorus (P) solubility in dried digestate solids in comparison to the addition of concentrated sulfuric acid (H2SO4). Manure-based (MDS) and sewage sludge-based (SDS) digestate solids were chosen to conduct a drying experiment at four pH levels (original pH, 8.0, 7.5 and 6.5) and using two acidifying agents (alum, concentrated H2SO4). Alum addition increased the final NH4+-N content significantly from 1.4 mg g−1 in the non-acidified control up to 18 mg g−1 and 10.8 mg g−1 in dried MDS and SDS, respectively, which were higher levels than obtained with the addition of concentrated H2SO4. Moreover, alum considerably lowered the water extractable phosphorus (WEP) in raw and dried SDS by 37–83% and 48–72%, respectively, compared with the non-treated control. In contrast, concentrated H2SO4 notably increased WEP in raw and dried MDS by 18–103% and 29–225%, respectively. The comparison between the two acidifying agents indicated that alum had the potential to be an efficient and easy-handling alternative to concentrated sulfuric acid, resulting in higher NH4+-N content and lower P solubility. Full article
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Article
Comparison of Nitrogen Treatment by Four Onsite Wastewater Systems in Nutrient-Sensitive Watersheds of the North Carolina Coastal Plain
Nitrogen 2021, 2(2), 268-286; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nitrogen2020018 - 08 Jun 2021
Viewed by 681
Abstract
Wastewater may be a source of nitrogen (N) to groundwater and surface waters if not effectively treated. In North Carolina, onsite wastewater systems (OWSs) are used by 50% of the population for wastewater treatment, but most OWSs are not routinely monitored. There is [...] Read more.
Wastewater may be a source of nitrogen (N) to groundwater and surface waters if not effectively treated. In North Carolina, onsite wastewater systems (OWSs) are used by 50% of the population for wastewater treatment, but most OWSs are not routinely monitored. There is a lack of information regarding the N contributions from OWSs to water resources. Four sites with OWSs were instrumented with groundwater wells near their drainfield trenches to compare N concentrations in groundwater to concentrations in wastewater and to determine the N treatment efficiency of the systems. Two OWSs (Site 200 and 300) were less than 1 year old, and two (Site 100 and 400) were more than 10 years old at the start of the study. Two OWSs (Site 100 and 200) used pressure dosing, while two OWSs (Site 300 and 400) used gravity distribution. The mean N treatment efficiency of the four OWSs was 77%. The new OWSs were more efficient (92%) relative to the older OWSs (62%) at reducing N concentrations. Similar N treatment efficiencies were observed when pooling data for the pressure dosed (77%) and gravity (79%) OWSs. Each OWS influenced groundwater by causing increases in N concentrations. It is important that new OWSs are installed at a shallow depth and with sufficient separation to groundwater to promote the aerobic treatment of wastewater. Remediation strategies including the installation of permeable reactive barriers or the use of media filters may be needed in some areas to reduce N transport from existing OWS. Full article
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Article
Tea Bags—Standard Materials for Testing Impacts of Nitrogen Addition on Litter Decomposition in Aquatic Ecosystems?
Nitrogen 2021, 2(2), 259-267; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nitrogen2020017 - 01 Jun 2021
Viewed by 753
Abstract
How the anthropogenic addition of nutrients, especially nitrogen (N), impacts litter decomposition has attracted extensive attention, but how environmental factors other than nutrients affect the impacts of N addition on litter decomposition is less understood. Since different local litters could respond differently to [...] Read more.
How the anthropogenic addition of nutrients, especially nitrogen (N), impacts litter decomposition has attracted extensive attention, but how environmental factors other than nutrients affect the impacts of N addition on litter decomposition is less understood. Since different local litters could respond differently to N addition, standard materials are necessary for comparing the impacts among various environments. The present study tested if tea bags used for the Tea Bag Index (TBI) approach, i.e., constructing an asymptote model by using a green tea decomposition datum and a rooibos tea decomposition datum (single measurement in time), can be standard materials for testing the impacts of N addition on litter decomposition in aquatic ecosystems. A laboratory incubation experiment was performed using a water sample taken from a stream in Kumamoto, Japan. Since a recent study suggested that the TBI approach may be inapplicable to aquatic ecosystems, a time-series data approach, i.e., fitting models to time-series mass loss data of tea bags, was also used for testing if tea bag decomposition can pick up the impacts of N addition on aquatic litter decomposition. The time-series data approach demonstrated that N addition significantly suppressed rooibos tea decomposition, whereas green tea decomposition was not affected by N addition. The TBI approach was unsuitable for testing the sensitivity of the response of tea bag decomposition to N addition because the TBI-based asymptote model failed to predict the observed data, confirming the suggestion by a previous study. Overall, the present study suggested that the tea bags can be used as standard materials for testing the impacts of N addition on litter decomposition in aquatic ecosystems, but only when using a time-series measurement and not the TBI. Full article
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Article
Microstructure/Mechanical Characterization of Plasma Nitrided Fine-Grain Austenitic Stainless Steels in Low Temperature
Nitrogen 2021, 2(2), 244-258; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nitrogen2020016 - 13 May 2021
Viewed by 548
Abstract
Fine-grained austenitic stainless steels (FGSS) were plasma nitrided below 700 K to describe their microstructure evolution during the nitrogen supersaturation process and to investigate the post-stressing effect on the microstructure and mechanical properties of nitrided FGSS. Normal- and fine-grained AISI304 plates were nitrided [...] Read more.
Fine-grained austenitic stainless steels (FGSS) were plasma nitrided below 700 K to describe their microstructure evolution during the nitrogen supersaturation process and to investigate the post-stressing effect on the microstructure and mechanical properties of nitrided FGSS. Normal- and fine-grained AISI304 plates were nitrided at 623 K and 673 K to investigate the grain size effect on the nitrogen supersaturation process as well as the microstructure evolution during the nitriding process. Fine-grained AISI316 (FGSS316) wires were nitrided at 623 K to demonstrate that their outer surfaces were uniformly nitrided to have the same two-phase, refined microstructure with high nitrogen solute content. This nitrided FGSS316 wire had a core structure where the original FGSS316 core matrix was bound by the nitrided FGSS316 layer. The nitrided wire had higher stiffness, ultimate strength, and elongation in the uniaxial tensile testing than its un-nitrided wires. The core microstructure was refined and homogenized by this applied loading together with an increase of nitrided layer hardness. Full article
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Article
The Use of Remote Sensing to Determine Nitrogen Status in Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) for Seed Production
Nitrogen 2021, 2(2), 229-243; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nitrogen2020015 - 09 May 2021
Viewed by 663
Abstract
Sufficient nitrogen (N) supply is decisive to achieve high grass seed yields while overfertilization will lead to negative environmental impact. From the literature, estimation of N rates taking into account the crop’s N status and its yield potential, seems promising for attaining high [...] Read more.
Sufficient nitrogen (N) supply is decisive to achieve high grass seed yields while overfertilization will lead to negative environmental impact. From the literature, estimation of N rates taking into account the crop’s N status and its yield potential, seems promising for attaining high yields and averting adverse environmental impacts. This study aimed at an evaluation of remote sensing to predict final seed yield, N traits of the grass seed crop and the usability of nitrogen nutrition index (NNI) to measure additional N requirement. It included four years’ data and eight N application rates and strategies. Several reflectance measurements were made and used for the calculation of 18 vegetation indices. The predictions were made using partial least square regression and support vector machine. Three different yield responses to N fertilization were noted; one with linear response, one with optimum economic nitrogen (EON) at ~188 kg N ha−1, and one with EON at ~138 kg N ha−1. We conclude that although it is possible to make in-season predictions of NNI, it does not always portray the differences in yield potential; thus, it is challenging to utilize it to optimize N application. Full article
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Article
Influence of Nitrogen Fertilization Rate on Soil Respiration: A Study Using a Rapid Soil Respiration Assay
Nitrogen 2021, 2(2), 218-228; https://doi.org/10.3390/nitrogen2020014 - 04 May 2021
Viewed by 517
Abstract
Efficient nitrogen (N) management is one of the primary objectives of agronomic research as N is expensive and a major environmental pollutant. Soil microbes regulate N cycling and soil respiration (SR) measures soil microbial activity. The Comprehensive Assessment of Soil Health (CASH) soil [...] Read more.
Efficient nitrogen (N) management is one of the primary objectives of agronomic research as N is expensive and a major environmental pollutant. Soil microbes regulate N cycling and soil respiration (SR) measures soil microbial activity. The Comprehensive Assessment of Soil Health (CASH) soil respiration protocol is a rapid test, and a study was designed to approve this test as a potential tool for corn (Zea mays L.) N management. Five locations were selected around South Dakota (SD) where corn received 0, 45, 90, and 180 kg N ha−1 during summer of 2019. Soil samples were collected before planting and at the V6 corn growth stage to measure SR. We found that N fertilization increased SR and the highest SR was recorded at Ipswich (1.94 mg CO2 g−1) while SR was lowest at Bushnell (1.45 mg CO2 g−1). Higher SR was recorded at the sites where no-till farming was practiced, and soil had higher initial nitrate and organic matter content. SR was weakly correlated with corn grain yield, which indicated a potential area for future research. We concluded that split N application or an additional N application at a later growth stage might boost corn productivity in soil with higher microbial activity. Full article
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Review
Nitrogen Dynamics in Wetland Systems and Its Impact on Biodiversity
Nitrogen 2021, 2(2), 196-217; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nitrogen2020013 - 01 May 2021
Viewed by 802
Abstract
Wetlands are viable sinks for nitrate and have also been identified as a source of nitrous oxide, a product of two microbially regulated processes: nitrification and denitrification. Anthropogenic expansion of nitrogen is a leading cause of the eutrophication of water bodies and may [...] Read more.
Wetlands are viable sinks for nitrate and have also been identified as a source of nitrous oxide, a product of two microbially regulated processes: nitrification and denitrification. Anthropogenic expansion of nitrogen is a leading cause of the eutrophication of water bodies and may also contribute to the deterioration of the ozone layer in the stratosphere. Wetlands ameliorate the quality of water percolating through them, by retaining nutrients and sequestering carbon, and simultaneously enhancing the flora and fauna diversity of these landscapes. Among the many services these wetlands provide, they also alleviate nitrate pollution by attenuating reactive nitrogen from agricultural drainage and ensure the effective reclamation of the wastewater. The literature regarding the viability of wetlands suggests a linear relationship between the removal of nitrogen and its loading rate, thereby suggesting a potential loss of nitrogen removal capacity due to the loss of wetland area. This review discusses the nitrogen removal mechanisms in existing wetlands along with the environmental variables affecting the optimum performance and management of these wetlands, in terms of greenhouse gas retention and biodiversity. Conservation of these wetlands should be contemplated to maintain the world-wide nitrogen cycle and diminish the negative repercussions of surplus nitrogen loading. Full article
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Article
Application of Density Plots and Time Series Modelling to the Analysis of Nitrogen Dioxides Measured by Low-Cost and Reference Sensors in Urban Areas
Nitrogen 2021, 2(2), 167-195; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nitrogen2020012 - 13 Apr 2021
Viewed by 603
Abstract
Temporal variability of NO2 concentrations measured by 28 Envirowatch E-MOTEs, 13 AQMesh pods, and eight reference sensors (five run by Sheffield City Council and three run by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)) was analysed at different time scales [...] Read more.
Temporal variability of NO2 concentrations measured by 28 Envirowatch E-MOTEs, 13 AQMesh pods, and eight reference sensors (five run by Sheffield City Council and three run by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)) was analysed at different time scales (e.g., annual, weekly and diurnal cycles). Density plots and time variation plots were used to compare the distributions and temporal variability of NO2 concentrations. Long-term trends, both adjusted and non-adjusted, showed significant reductions in NO2 concentrations. At the Tinsley site, the non-adjusted trend was −0.94 (−1.12, −0.78) µgm−3/year, whereas the adjusted trend was −0.95 (−1.04, −0.86) µgm−3/year. At Devonshire Green, the non-adjusted trend was −1.21 (−1.91, −0.41) µgm−3/year and the adjusted trend was −1.26 (−1.57, −0.83) µgm−3/year. Furthermore, NO2 concentrations were analysed employing univariate linear and nonlinear time series models and their performance was compared with a more advanced time series model using two exogenous variables (NO and O3). For this purpose, time series data of NO, O3 and NO2 were obtained from a reference site in Sheffield, which were more accurate than the measurements from low-cost sensors and, therefore, more suitable for training and testing the model. In this article, the three main steps used for model development are discussed: (i) model specification for choosing appropriate values for p, d and q, (ii) model fitting (parameters estimation), and (iii) model diagnostic (testing the goodness of fit). The linear auto-regressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) performed better than the nonlinear counterpart; however, its performance in predicting NO2 concentration was inferior to ARIMA with exogenous variables (ARIMAX). Using cross-validation ARIMAX demonstrated strong association with the measured concentrations, with a correlation coefficient of 0.84 and RMSE of 9.90. ARIMAX can be used as an early warning tool for predicting potential pollution episodes in order to be proactive in adopting precautionary measures. Full article
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Article
Comparative Effectiveness of Four Nitrification Inhibitors for Mitigating Carbon Dioxide and Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Three Different Textured Soils
Nitrogen 2021, 2(2), 155-166; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nitrogen2020011 - 13 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 679
Abstract
Nitrification inhibitors (NIs) can be used to reduce both NO3-N leaching and N2O-N emissions. However, the comparative efficacies of NIs can be strongly affected by soil type. Therefore, the efficacies of four nitrification inhibitors (dicyandiamide (DCD), 3, 4-dimethylpyrazole [...] Read more.
Nitrification inhibitors (NIs) can be used to reduce both NO3-N leaching and N2O-N emissions. However, the comparative efficacies of NIs can be strongly affected by soil type. Therefore, the efficacies of four nitrification inhibitors (dicyandiamide (DCD), 3, 4-dimethylpyrazole phosphate (DMPP), nitrogenous mineral fertilizers containing the DMPP ammonium stabilizer (ENTEC) and active ingredients: 3.00–3.25% 1, 2, 4-triazole and 1.50–1.65% 3-methylpyrazole (PIADIN)) were investigated in three different textured N-fertilized (0.5 g NH4+-N kg−1 soil) soils of Schleswig-Holstein, namely, Marsch (clayey), Östliches Hügelland (loamy) and Geest (sandy) under a controlled environment. Total CO2-C and N2O-N emissions were significantly higher from Marsch than Östliches Hügelland and Geest. In Marsch, DMPP showed the highest inhibitory effect on CO2-C emission (50%), followed by PIADIN (32%) and ENTEC (16%). In Östliches Hügelland, DCD and PIADIN showed the highest and equal inhibitory effect on CO2-C emission (73%), followed by DMPP (64%) and ENTEC (36%). In Marsch and Östliches Hügelland, DCD showed the stronger inhibitory effect on N2O-N emission (86% and 47%) than DMPP (56% and 30%) and PIADIN (54% and 16%). In Geest, DMPP was more effective in reducing N2O-N emission (88%) than PIADIN (70%) and DCD (33%). Thus, it can be concluded that DCD is a better NI for clay and loamy soils, while DMPP and PIADIN are better for sandy soils to inhibit soil nitrification and gaseous emissions. Full article
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Article
Intra- and Inter-Annual Variability in the Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen in an Urbanized River before and after Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades: Case Study in the Grand River (Southwestern Ontario)
Nitrogen 2021, 2(2), 139-154; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nitrogen2020010 - 10 Apr 2021
Viewed by 460
Abstract
External nitrogen (N) inputs originating from human activities act as essential nutrients accumulation in aquatic ecosystems or it is exported elsewhere, where the assimilation capacity is surpassed. This research presents a multi-annual case study of the dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in an urban [...] Read more.
External nitrogen (N) inputs originating from human activities act as essential nutrients accumulation in aquatic ecosystems or it is exported elsewhere, where the assimilation capacity is surpassed. This research presents a multi-annual case study of the dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in an urban river in Ontario (Canada), assessed changes in N downstream of the largest wastewater treatment plant (WTP) in the watershed. Changes in the DIN effluent discharge, in-river concentrations and loads were observed comparing the intra- and inter-annual variability (2010–2013) before, during and after WTP upgrades. These upgrades reduced the ammonium concentration in the river from 0.44 to 0.11 mg N-NH4+/L (year average), but the N load in the effluent increased. In the river, nitrate and ammonium concentrations responded to seasonal variability, being higher during the low temperature (>10 °C) and high flow seasons (spring and spring melt). Among years, changes in the DIN concentration are likely controlled by the effluent to river dilution ratio, which variability resides on the differences in river discharge between years. This suggest that the increasing trend in the DIN concentration and loads are the result of agricultural and urban additions, together with reduced N assimilation, in addition to N loads responding to variable river discharge. Finally, we propose monitoring both concentrations and loads, as they provide answers to different questions for regulatory agencies and water managers, allowing tailored strategies for different purposes, objectives and users. Full article
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Article
Cascade Effect of Nitrogen on Brazilian Soybean Production Chain
Nitrogen 2021, 2(2), 128-138; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nitrogen2020009 - 01 Apr 2021
Viewed by 943
Abstract
Soybean is one of the most traded products. Naturally, soy fixes nitrogen through biological symbiosis. Its cultivation transforms natural inert atomic nitrogen into its reactive forms. The advancement of soybean can have environmental impacts, both locally and globally. This study estimated nitrogen flows [...] Read more.
Soybean is one of the most traded products. Naturally, soy fixes nitrogen through biological symbiosis. Its cultivation transforms natural inert atomic nitrogen into its reactive forms. The advancement of soybean can have environmental impacts, both locally and globally. This study estimated nitrogen flows and their use efficiency in the Brazilian soybean production chain applying material flow analysis. We innovate proposing a new indicator to estimate the “cascade effect of nitrogen” in a framework of 12 years (2007 to 2019). We hypothesized that it is capable to show accumulated nitrogen emissions through the chain. Besides, the method can show the main sources of nitrogen to the environment. The biological fixation was the largest entry. The efficiency in the use of nitrogen was 81% for grain production, and the nitrogen cascade indicator, which represents the ratio of the nitrogen emission in the environment to the total nitrogen available in the product, was only 5.2% in the soybean meal production chain for the year of 2019, with a clear trend of increasing during the period. Thus, Brazil contributes significantly to global nitrogen emissions in the environment since the country is an important producer and player in the world market. Full article
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Article
Exploring Temperature-Related Effects in Catch Crop Net N Mineralization Outside of First-Order Kinetics
Nitrogen 2021, 2(2), 110-127; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nitrogen2020008 - 01 Apr 2021
Viewed by 625
Abstract
Catch crops are an effective method for reducing nitrogen (N) leaching in agriculture, but the mineralization of incorporated catch crop residue N is difficult to predict and model. We conducted a five-month incubation experiment using fresh residue from three catch crops (hairy vetch, [...] Read more.
Catch crops are an effective method for reducing nitrogen (N) leaching in agriculture, but the mineralization of incorporated catch crop residue N is difficult to predict and model. We conducted a five-month incubation experiment using fresh residue from three catch crops (hairy vetch, fodder radish and ryegrass) with three temperature treatments (2 °C, 15 °C and 2–15 °C variable temperature) and two termination methods (glyphosate and untreated). Mineral N (ammonium and nitrate) in soil was quantified at 0, 1, 2, 4, 8 and 20 weeks of incubation. Ammonium accumulation from residue decomposition showed a lag at low and variable temperature, but subsequent nitrification of the ammonium did not. Mineral N accumulation over time changed from exponential to sigmoidal mode at low and variable temperature. Incubation temperature significantly affected mineralization rates in a first-order kinetics (FOK) model, while plant type and termination method did not. Plant type alone had a significant effect on the final mineralized fraction of added catch crop N. FOK models modified to accommodate an initial lag were fitted to the incubation results and produced better goodness-of-fit statistics than simple FOK. We suggest that initial lags in residue decomposition should be investigated for the benefit of mineralization predictions in cropping models. Full article
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