Comparison of Laboratory Methodologies to Determine Soil Nitrogen Mineralization from Organic Residues

María Rosa Yagüe, María Carmen Lobo


Recycling organic waste for use as fertilizer requires prior knowledge of mineral nitrogen (N) availability for crops. Estimation of soil N release or potentially mineralizable N is an important tool for the design of fertilization strategies that aim to minimize the use of N fertilizer. The aerobic incubation method is considered a standard technique to measure soil potential to mineralize N. In this study, alternative methods of aerobic incubation were evaluated to help overcome its limitations (long time and equipment). In this regard, biological methods (anaerobic incubation at 7 and 14 days) and chemical extraction (hot KCl) procedures were examined. To determine potentially mineralizable N, a silty clay loam soil was fertilized with spent mushroom substrates and anaerobic digestates from different origins (C/N ratio of 4 to 38). Based on the results, chemical extraction emerges as a reliable alternative to the aerobic incubation method, particularly when the C/N ratio of the organic residues ranges from 12 to 15. Moreover, its implementation in routine soil laboratories is straightforward and faster, and it does not require any special equipment.


Aerobic incubation; Anaerobic incubation; KCl hot; Organic fertilizers; Anaerobic digestate; Spent mushroom substrates

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