Soil Dynamics


    Fertilizer Application


    Plant Physiology

Soil, Plant & Fertilizer

The performance of a particular plant or an entire crop is highly dependent on the fertility of the soil it is growing in. Soil fertility is a multi-faceted analysis of elemental concentrations and biological activity. To get a complete picture of soil fertility, concentrations of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur, as well as the differentiation of carbon into total organic or total inorganic carbon (TOC or TIC) fractions, are all relevant parameters. Improving soil health by fertilization requires accurate measurements of a wide range of soils and fertilizers. Elementar’s wide range of multi- and single-element analyzers provide individualized solutions to even the most challenging problems.

Soil C:N ratio

The carbon and nitrogen content of soil is directly related to its ability to support healthy plant growth. The vario MAX cube is specially suited to soil analysis. Capable of measuring up to 5 g of soil means that sample inhomogeneity is not an issue. Automated ash removal reduces maintenance requirements and increases productivity. A unique purge-and-trap gas separation system means that even C:N ratios of 7000:1 are perfectly resolved. Additional options, such as using argon as the carrier gas and measuring sulfur or TOC, make the vario MAX cube a versatile, robust solution for soil elemental analysis.

Nitrogen in Fertilizer

The rapid MAX N exceed is ideal for determining the nitrogen content in fertilizer. With sample sizes up to 5 grams of inorganic or 1 gram of organic material, sample preparation in many cases is as easy as weighing the sample into the reusable steel crucibles.

Sulfur in Fertilizer

With the reduction of external sulfur sources, maintaining proper sulfur levels in soil by fertilization is becoming more important. The vario MACRO cube is the world’s only macro sample (up to 1 g) analyzer capable of measuring carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulfur all in one sample. The wide dynamic range of the thermal conductivity detector enables the accurate determination of sulfur from a fraction of a percent up to 100 % with just one calibration range. Whether interested in just sulfur or any combination of CHNS, the vario MACRO cube provides timely, reliable results with little maintenance, saving you time and money.

Carbon fractions

The total organic carbon (TOC) analysis provides essential information about microbiological activity and organic matter to characterize and evaluate soil and sediment. Soils can also contain a large amount of biologically inaccessible inorganic carbon (TIC), typically in the form of carbonates. Elemental carbon (ROC) is a further common source of carbon, which is also not bio-available. Separately measuring this third carbon fraction can give a much more accurate determination of bio-available, and thus environmentally relevant, TOC compared to acidification method. The revolutionary soli TOC cube measures these three carbon fractions in soils and other solids in a single sample without the need for corrosive acids, providing reliable results with minimal user input.

Soil & plant science publications using our instruments

Our customers use our instruments to do some amazing research in the soil & plant science application field. To show you how they perform their research and how they use our IRMS instruments, we have collected a range of peer-reviewed publications which cite our products. You can find the citations below and then follow the links to the publishing journal should you wish to download the publication.

If you would like to investigate our available citations in more detail, or email the citation list to yourself or your colleagues then take a look at our full citation database.

172 results:

Artificial remodelling of alternative electron flow by flavodiiron proteins in Arabidopsis
Nature Plants (2016)
Hiroshi Yamamoto, Shunichi Takahashi, Murray R. Badger, Toshiharu Shikanai

Nitrogen Fertigation Rates Affect Stored Nitrogen, Growth, and Blooming in Iris germanica 'Immortality
HortScience (2016)
Xiaojie Zhao, Guihong Bi, Richard L. Harkess, Jac J. Varco, Tongyin Li, Eugene K. Blythe

Tall bearded (TB) iris (Iris germanica L.) has great potential as a specialty cut flower due to its fragrance and showy, multicolor display; however, limited research has been reported on optimal nitrogen (N) nutrient management for TB iris. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of N fertilizer rate on plant growth and flowering of Immortality iris and determine the influence of both stored N and spring-applied N fertilizer on spring growth and flowering. On 14 Mar. 2012, rhizomes of Immortality iris were potted in a commercial substrate with no starter fertilizer. Plants were fertigated with 0, 5, 10, 15, or 20 mM N from NH4NO3 twice per week from 28 Mar. to 28 Sept. 2012. In 2013, half of the plants from each of the 2012 N rate were supplied with either 0 or 10 mM N from 15NH415NO3 twice per week from 25 Mar. to 7 May 2013. Growth and flowering data including plant height, leaf SPAD, number of fans and inflorescence stems, and length of inflorescence stem were collected during the growing season. Plants were harvested in Dec. 2012 and May 2013 to measure dry weight and N concentration in leaves, roots, and rhizomes. Results showed higher 2012 N rates increased plant height, leaf SPAD reading, and number of inflorescence stems at first and second blooming in 2012. Greater 2012 N rates also increased plant dry weight and N content in all structures, and N concentration in roots and rhizomes. Rhizomes (58.8% to 66.3% of total N) were the dominant sink for N in Dec. 2012. Higher 2012 N rates increased plant height, number of fans, and the number of inflorescence stems at spring bloom in 2013. In May 2013, N in leaf tissue constituted the majority (51% to 64.3%) of the total plant N. Higher 2012 N rates increased total dry weight, N concentration, and N content in all 2013 15N rates; however, leaf dry weight in all plants was improved by 2013 15N rate. Percentage of tissue N derived from 2013 15N (NDFF) decreased with increasing 2012 N rate. New spring leaves were the dominant sink (56.8% to 72.2%) for 2013 applied 15N. In summary, Immortality iris is capable of a second blooming in a growing season, this second blooming dependent on N fertilization rate in current year. A relatively high N rate is recommended to produce a second bloom.

Enhanced transfer of biologically fixed N from faba bean to intercropped wheat through mycorrhizal symbiosis
Applied Soil Ecology (2016)
Sanâa Wahbi, Tasnime Maghraoui, Mohamed Hafidi, Hervé Sanguin, Khalid Oufdou, Yves Prin, Robin Duponnois, Antoine Galiana

In Morocco, the use of seed legumes is limited because significant water deficits and the low availability of soil phosphorus (P) limit nitrogen fixation. However, little is known about the ability of faba bean-rhizobium symbiosis to fix nitrogen in P-deficient soils and to transfer fixed nitrogen (N) to intercropped wheat. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM) and their extraradical hyphae networks play an important role in the facilitation process by promoting interconnectivity and the transfer of nutrients, such as N and P, between associated plants. The aim of this study was to analyse the impact of AM inoculation on N2 fixation and the transfer of fixed N from faba bean to intercropped wheat. Germinated faba bean and wheat seeds were transferred into 1–l pots filled with a P-deficient soil that was collected from the Haouz valley near Marrakech (Morocco). Plants from the two species were grown in pots in either pure or mixed stands under greenhouse conditions, and each cropping system was subjected to three mycorrhizal inoculation treatments with a non-inoculated (AM0) and two concentrations of Rhizophagus irregularis inoculants containing 1000 (AM1) or 2000 (AM2) spores pot−1. The 15N isotope dilution method was used to determine the amount and proportion of atmospheric N fixed by faba bean (Ndfa%) and the fixed N that was transferred to wheat. Mycorrhizal inoculation had a significantly positive effect on the shoot dry weights and total shoot N in faba bean, but not in wheat. The cropping system had no significant effect on the plant growth and total shoot N in both faba bean and wheat. The Ndfa percentage was very high in all of the treatments, varying from 86 to 91%. The total N fixed by faba bean was 27% significantly higher in the AM2 treatment compared with the AM1 and AM0 treatments for both cropping systems combined. The estimated proportions of fixed N that were transferred from faba bean to wheat were far higher in AM1 (50%) and AM2 (32%) treatments than in AM0 (15%) treatment as well as for the total transferred fixed N. As corroborated by a parallel observation of root mycorrhizal colonization, these results suggest that the development of mycorrhizal networks stimulates the transfer of fixed N from faba bean to wheat, which could significantly contribute to the facilitation process under intercropping conditions.
Tags: nitrogen , soil , elem

Stable oxygen isotope signatures of early season wood in New Zealand kauri (Agathis australis) tree rings: Prospects for palaeoclimate reconstruction
Dendrochronologia (2016)
Andrew M. Lorrey, Tom H. Brookman, Michael N. Evans, Nicolas C. Fauchereau, Cate Macinnis-Ng, Margaret M. Barbour, Alison Criscitiello, Greg Eischeid, Anthony M. Fowler, Travis W. Horton, Daniel P. Schrag

One of the longest Southern Hemisphere tree ring chronologies that has potential to provide past climate reconstructions has been produced using New Zealand kauri (Agathis australis). Work to date on kauri has been limited to reconstructions from whole-ring width analysis. In this study, we present the first replicated stable oxygen isotopic composition of early season alpha-cellulose from calendar-dated kauri tree rings within the natural growth range of the species. We also use newly established kauri physiology information about stomatal conductance and a mechanistic model to place initial interpretations on kauri δ18O signatures. Kauri early season δ18O has a range from 26 to 34‰ (V-SMOW) for a site located at Lower Huia Dam in west Auckland, and the mean δ18O chronology from that site is significantly correlated (p<0.05) to October-December vapor pressure, May-December relative humidity and other associated hydroclimatic variables. The observed statistical relationships are consistent with mechanistic δ18O simulations using the forward model of Barbour et al. (2004) that incorporates a leaf temperature energy balance model to calculate transpiration as forced with local meteorological variables and a range of physiological parameters. The correlation results and mechanistic model simulations suggest kauri δ18O early season wood has the potential to provide new quantitative past climate information for northern New Zealand, and also complement whole ring-width reconstructions of past regional climate variability – a component of which is previously established as sensitive to El Niño-Southern Oscillation activity. Additional work is required to determine whether the observed relationships are consistent across the growth range of kauri and what the optimum sample depth is before long isotope-based palaeoclimate reconstructions from modern and sub-fossil kauri sites are undertaken.

Response of soil organic carbon to land-use change in central Brazil: a large-scale comparison of Ferralsols and Acrisols
Plant and Soil (2016)
S. Strey, J. Boy, R. Strey, O. Weber, G. Guggenberger

Vertical distribution of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios in topsoils across a temperate rainforest dune chronosequence in New Zealand
Biogeochemistry (2016)
Melanie Brunn, Leo Condron, Andrew Wells, Sandra Spielvogel, Yvonne Oelmann

Tags: carbon , nitrogen , soil , elem

Impacts of Spartina alterniflora invasion on soil organic carbon and nitrogen pools sizes, stability, and turnover in a coastal salt marsh of eastern China
Ecological Engineering (2016)
Wen Yang, Shuqing An, Hui Zhao, Lingqian Xu, Yajun Qiao, Xiaoli Cheng

Plant invasion may impact ecosystem structure and function, and further affect soil organic matter (SOM) dynamics. However, the influence of plant invasion on soil organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) pools sizes, stability, and turnover in SOM of invaded ecosystems is not fully understood. In this study, soil C and N contents, and δ13C and δ15N values of free light fraction (LF), intra-aggregate particulate organic matter (iPOM) and mineral-associated organic matter (mSOM) were investigated in an invasive Spartina alterniflora community, adjacent bare flat and native Suaeda salsa and Phragmites australis communities. Short-term S. alterniflora invasion significantly enhanced organic C and N contents in SOM, free LF, iPOM, mSOM compared with bare flat and increased the proportion of allocated C in iPOM compared with S. salsa and P. australis soils (0–0.30m depth). The proportion of the S. alterniflora-derived C in free LF and iPOM were significantly higher than that in mSOM, and the highest S. alterniflora-derived C content was found in iPOM of S. alterniflora soil. The most enriched δ15N values were found in S. alterniflora soil. Increased δ15N values and decreased C:N ratios from the free LF to iPOM to mSOM in S. alterniflora soil indicated a greater degree of decomposition. The results suggest that 10-year S. alterniflora invasion significantly alters soil organic C and N pools sizes and stability through changing plant residuals input, physical distribution of S. alterniflora-derived C and C turnover in SOM fractions.
Tags: carbon , nitrogen , soil , geol , ecol , elem

Enhanced terrestrial carbon preservation promoted by Reactive Iron in Deltaic Sediments
Geophysical Research Letters (2016)
Michael R. Shields, Thomas S. Bianchi, Yves Gélinas, Mead A. Allison, Robert R. Twilley

We examined the role of reactive iron (FeR) in preserving organic carbon (OC) across a subaerial chronosequence of the Wax Lake Delta, a prograding delta within the Mississippi River Delta complex. We found that ~15.0% of the OC was bound to FeR, and the dominant binding mechanisms varied from adsorption in the youngest subaerial region to coprecipitation at the older, vegetated sites. The δ13C of the iron-associated OC was more negative than the total OC (mean = −2.6‰), indicating greater preference for terrestrial material and/or compounds with more negative δ13C values. However, only the adsorbed OC displayed preferential binding of lignin phenols. We estimate that ~8% of the OC initially deposited in deltaic systems is bound to FeR (equivalent to 6 × 1012 gC yr−1), and this percentage increases postdepositionally, as coprecipitation of FeR and OC allows for an even greater amount of OC to be bound to FeR.
Tags: carbon , soil , geol , elem

Long term repeated fire disturbance alters soil bacterial diversity but not the abundance in an Australian wet sclerophyll forest.
Scientific reports (2016)
Ju-Pei Shen, C R Chen, Tom Lewis

Effects of fire on biogeochemical cycling in terrestrial ecosystem are widely acknowledged, while few studies have focused on the bacterial community under the disturbance of long-term frequent prescribed fire. In this study, three treatments (burning every two years (B2), burning every four years (B4) and no burning (B0)) were applied for 38 years in an Australian wet sclerophyll forest. Results showed that bacterial alpha diversity (i.e. bacterial OTU) in the top soil (0-10 cm) was significantly higher in the B2 treatment compared with the B0 and B4 treatments. Non-metric multidimensional analysis (NMDS) of bacterial community showed clear separation of the soil bacterial community structure among different fire frequency regimes and between the depths. Different frequency fire did not have a substantial effect on bacterial composition at phylum level or bacterial 16S rRNA gene abundance. Soil pH and C:N ratio were the major drivers for bacterial community structure in the most frequent fire treatment (B2), while other factors (EC, DOC, DON, MBC, NH4(+), TC and TN) were significant in the less frequent burning and no burning treatments (B4 and B0). This study suggested that burning had a dramatic impact on bacterial diversity but not abundance with more frequent fire.

Fungal Communities in Soils: Soil Organic Matter Degradation.
Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) (2016)
Tomáš Větrovský, Martina Štursová, Petr Baldrian

Stable isotope probing (SIP) provides the opportunity to label decomposer microorganisms that build their biomass on a specific substrate. In combination with high-throughput sequencing, SIP allows for the identification of fungal community members involved in a particular decomposition process. Further information can be gained through gene-targeted metagenomics and metatranscriptomics, opening the possibility to describe the pool of genes catalyzing specific decomposition reactions in situ and to identify the diversity of genes that are expressed. When combined with gene descriptions of fungal isolates from the same environment, specific biochemical reactions involved in decomposition can be linked to individual fungal taxa. Here we describe the use of these methods to explore the cellulolytic fungal community in forest litter and soil.
Tags: carbon , soil , elem , gashead