Nitrification in a pine bark medium
The influence of nitrification on the “soil” solution of container media has not been documented. The investigation of this influence is justified since the ionic form of N in a soil solution has a significant influence on plant tissue nutrient content and growth. Three genera of woody plants were grown in one-liter containers filled with pine bark, treated with and without a nitrification inhibitor and fertilized with 210 ml of a 100 ppm NH₄-N solution. Without the inhibitor and over time, “soil” solution NH₄-N concentrations and pH decreased and NO₃-N concentrations increased. “Soil” solution and tissue cation concentrations were generally greater without the inhibitor.
In a second experiment, pine bark in one-liter containers was treated with either 0, 3 or 6 kg lime m⁻³. “Soil” solution data and NO₃-N accumulation rate (NAR) data showed an earlier nitrification of NH₄-N at the 6 kg lime compared to the 3 kg lime treatment whereas NO₃-N was not found at the 0 kg lime treatment.
In a 3rd experiment, pine bark in one-liter containers was treated with 210 ml of either 25, 100 or 200 ppm NH₄-N. Over time “soil” solution NO₃-N concentrations were greatest and pH values were lowest at the 200 ppm N treatment. The NAR of the 25 ppm N treatment was less than the 100 and 200 ppm N treatment which were not different. The lack of correspondence between the “soil” solution NO₃-N data and the NAR data for the 100 and 200 ppm N treatments was explained on the basis of NH₄-N supply.
In a 4th experiment, pine bark in one-liter containers were subjected to either 10°, 20°, 30° or 40° C for 24 days. “Soil” solution NH₄-N concentrations decreased over time at 10°, 20° and 30°. “Soil” solution NH₄-N and NO₃-N concentrations at 40° were considerably higher and lower, respectively, than at other temperatures. Over time the general order of NAR was: 20° = 30° > 10° > 40°. Results of these experiments indicate that nitrification is an important consideration in the nutrition of container-grown plants.