Pedosphere 29(4): 516--526, 2019
ISSN 1002-0160/CN 32-1315/P
©2019 Soil Science Society of China
Published by Elsevier B.V. and Science Press
Denitrification Rate and Controlling Factors for Accumulated Nitrate in the Deep Subsoil of Intensive Farmlands: A Case Study in the North China Plain
YUAN Haijing1,2, QIN Shuping1, DONG Wenxu1, HU Chunsheng1, Kiril MANEVSKI3, LI Xiaoxin1
1Key Laboratory of Agricultural Water Resources, Center for Agricultural Resources Research, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shijiazhuang 050021(China)
2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049(China)
3Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Tjele 8830(Denmark)
      Denitrification in subsoil (to a depth of 12 m) is an important mechanism to reduce nitrate (NO3-) leaching into groundwater. However, regulating mechanisms of subsoil denitrification, especially those in the deep subsoil beneath the crop root zone, have not been well documented. In this study, soil columns of 0-12 m depth were collected from intensively farmed fields in the North China Plain. The fields had received long-term nitrogen (N) fertilizer inputs at 0 (N0), 200 (N200) and 600 (N600) kg N ha-1 year-1. Main soil properties related to denitrification, i.e., soil water content, NO3-, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), soil organic carbon (SOC), pH, denitrifying enzyme activity (DEA), and anaerobic denitrification rate (ADR), were determined. Statistical comparisons among the treatments were performed. The results showed that NO3- was more heavily accumulated in the entire soil profile of the N600 treatment, compared to the N0 and N200 treatments. The SOC, DOC, and ADR decreased with increasing soil depth in all treatments, whereas considerable DEA was observed throughout the subsoil. The long-term fertilizer rates affected ADR only in the upper 4 m soil layers. The ADRs in the N200 and N600 treatments were significantly correlated with DOC. Multiple regression analysis indicated that DOC rather than DEA was the key factor regulating denitrification beneath the root zone. Additional research is required to determine if carbon addition into subsoil can be a promising approach to enhance NO3- denitrification in the subsoil and consequently to mitigate groundwater NO3- contamination in the intensive farmlands.
Key Words:  denitrifying enzyme activity,dissolved organic carbon,nitrate leaching,soil organic carbon,subsoil denitrification
Citation: Yuan H J, Qin S P, Dong W X, Hu C S, Manevski K, Li X X. 2019. Denitrification rate and controlling factors for accumulated nitrate in the deep subsoil of intensive farmlands:A case study in the North China Plain. Pedosphere. 29(4):516-526.
View Full Text

Copyright © 2020 Editorial Committee of PEDOSPHERE. All rights reserved.
Address: P. O. Box 821, 71 East Beijing Road, Nanjing 210008, China    E-mail:
Technical support: Beijing E-Tiller Co.,Ltd.