Comparison of Disturbed and Undisturbed Soil Core Methods to Estimate Nitrogen-Mineralization Rates in Manured Agricultural Soils

Dean P. Moberg, Richard L. Johnson, Dan M. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Ion exchange resin / soil cores are a common in situ approach to estimating soil nitrogen (N) mineralization rates. However, no studies compare the two common methods of core preparation (disturbed and undisturbed). The objective of our study was to compare N mineralized and soil temperature in disturbed versus undisturbed cores of manured agricultural soils. Undisturbed cores were prepared by driving aluminum tubes (25 cm long with 10 cm inner diameter) into soil, removing the tubes, and then inserting an ion-exchange resin bag beneath the soil at the bottom of the tube. Disturbed cores were prepared with the same materials, but soil was excavated, mixed, and then filled into tubes fitted with ion-exchange resin bags at the bottom. Soil from six agricultural fields (five of which had more than 10 years of regular dairy manure application) was incubated over four time periods during summer and winter. A total of 13 soil / incubation-period combinations were tested. Disturbed cores tended to have more N mineralized than undisturbed cores (P < 0.10), especially in cores prepared with the lowest clay content soil. However, variability of N mineralized was lower in disturbed cores than undisturbed cores for 11 of the 13 soil / incubation periods. This lower variability was significant in two of the four incubation periods (P < 0.10). There was little difference in mean soil temperatures in disturbed versus undisturbed cores or within cores versus outside but adjacent to cores. However, in summer, the daily temperature range inside cores was significantly greater than the temperature range in soil outside cores (P < 0.01).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1722-1732
Number of pages11
JournalCommunications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2013


  • Ion-exchange resins
  • mineralization
  • nitrogen
  • soil core method
  • testing methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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