Labile soil organic matter as a potential nitrogen source in golf greens

Mine Kerek, Rhae A. Drijber, Roch E. Gaussoin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The loss of fertilizer N from golf greens can be high depending upon management (irrigation schedule, N source, rate and timing of fertilizer application) as well as soil conditions. Although soil organic matter (SOM) is acknowledged as a major source of N and other nutrients, its potential as an N source seems to be neglected in the management of golf greens. The susceptibility of SOM to degradation is one indication of how active a role SOM plays as a nutrient source. An extraction method developed by Olk et al. [Geoderma 65 (1995) 195] distinguishes humic acid fractions by their binding to dominant stabilizing soil cations and separates them into calcium-bound (CaHA) and non calcium-bound or mobile (MHA) fractions. Mobile humic acid is a relatively young, N-rich HA fraction that does not appear to form stable complexes with Ca. The MHA could therefore play a greater role in nutrient availability than CaHA. We determined C and N distributions within SOM extracted from these two HA fractions in 11 golf greens ranging in age from 4 to 28 yr. Because SOM in golf greens is recently formed, and MHA is an N-rich fraction representing an early stage of SOM evolution, we hypothesized that the MHA fraction would account for a larger proportion of soil organic N than CaHA. The amounts of both HA-C and HA-N increased significantly with green age. MHA accounted for a larger proportion (20-27%) of total soil C than CaHA-C (8-14%). MHA was also enriched in N compared to CaHA with consistently smaller C-to-N ratios. Thus, the greater abundance of MHA and its higher N concentration accounted for a larger proportion of soil organic N (24-45%). The equivalence of MHA-N ranged between 250 kg N ha-1 for a 4 yr-old green and 775 kg N ha-1 for a 21 yr-old green. Thus, soils of established greens contain significant quantities of labile SOM rich in N that could through mineralization supply part of the fertilizer N requirement of turf grass. A greater understanding of the dynamics of this resource is needed if we are to manage golf greens for optimal use without negative consequences to the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1643-1649
Number of pages7
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Calcium humate
  • Golf greens
  • Mobile humic acid
  • N source
  • Soil organic N

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Soil Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Labile soil organic matter as a potential nitrogen source in golf greens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this