Pedosphere 31(2): 243--254, 2021
ISSN 1002-0160/CN 32-1315/P
©2021 Soil Science Society of China
Published by Elsevier B.V. and Science Press
Optimizing the use of open chambers to measure ammonia volatilization in field plots amended with urea
Márcio R. MARTINS1,2,3, Leonardo F. SARKIS2, Selenobaldo A. C. SANT'ANNA1,2, Camila A. SANTOS1,2, Karla E. ARAUJO1,2, Ricardo C. SANTOS1,2, Ednaldo S. ARAÚJO1, Bruno J. R. ALVES1, Claudia P. JANTALIA1, Robert M. BODDEY1, Mohammad ZAMAN4, Segundo URQUIAGA1
1Embrapa Agrobiology, Rod. BR 465, km 7, Seropédica RJ CEP 23891-000(Brazil)
2Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro(UFRRJ), Rod. BR 465, km 7, Seropédica RJ CEP 23891-000(Brazil)
3Agroscope, Research Division Agroecology and Environment, Climate and Agriculture Group, Reckenholzstrasse 191, Zurich 8046(Switzerland)
4Soil and Water Management&Crop Nutrition, Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food&Agriculture, P. O. Box 100, Vienna A-1400(Austria)
Corresponding Author:Márcio R. MARTINS
      Measuring ammonia (NH3) volatilization from urea-fertilized soils is crucial for evaluation of practices that reduce gaseous nitrogen (N) losses in agriculture. The small area of chambers used for NH3 volatilization measurements compared with the size of field plots may cause significant errors if inadequate sampling strategies are adopted. Our aims were:i) to investigate the effect of using multiple open chambers on the variability in the measurement of NH3 volatilization in urea-amended field plots and ii) to define the critical period of NH3-N losses during which the concentration of sampling effort is capable of reducing uncertainty. The use of only one chamber covering 0.015% of the plot (51.84 m2) generates a value of NH3-N loss within an expected margin of error of 30% around the true mean. To reduce the error margin by half (15%), 3-7 chambers were required with a mean of 5 chambers per plot. Concentrating the sampling efforts in the first two weeks after urea application, which is usually the most critical period of N losses and associated errors, represents an efficient strategy to lessen uncertainty in the measurements of NH3 volatilization. This strategy enhances the power of detection of NH3-N loss abatement in field experiments using chambers.
Key Words:  chamber method,experimental error,gas emission,low-cost chamber,nitrogen cycling,nitrogen loss,soil variability
Citation: Martins M R, Sarkis L F, Sant'Anna S A C, Santos C A, Araujo K E, Santos R C, Araújo E S, Alves B J R, Jantalia C P, Boddey R M, Zaman M, Urquiaga S. 2021. Optimizing the use of open chambers to measure ammonia volatilization in field plots amended with urea. Pedosphere. 31(2):243-254.
View Full Text

Copyright © 2023 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.