Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Plants, Soils, and Climate

Committee Chair(s)

R. L. Smith


R. L. Smith


Losses of soil nitrogen that cannot be attributed to leaching or crop removal have been observed in many field experiments. Several mechanisms have been proposed to account for these losses.

Perhaps the best known mechanism involves the process of microbial denitrification. Undoubtedly this process plays a major role in nitrogen loss but it does not seem to adequately account for many of the losses observed. A thorough understanding of other possible loss pathways has tremendous agricultural implications as well as being of interest from a purely scientific standpoint.

It has long been accepted that nitrite is an intermediate in the biological oxidation of ammonium to nitrate. Because of the high reactivity of nitrous acid and the nitrite ion many investigators have proposed pathways involving them. Considering the diversity of possible reactions and products involving nitrite it is not surprising that numerous contradictions are found in the literature on this subject.

The work reported here was an attempt to clarify the role of some of these pathways in the destruction of the nitrite ion in acid soils. The availability of a gas chromatograph and incubation equipment made the study feasible from a technical standpoint.

Most of the data reported here were collected by the author in the late summer of 1961, using techniques developed over the previous year. Some data re included that were collected by Dr. Keith Justice in the summer of 1962 using these same methods.