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, 46 (3), 559-567

Nitrogen, Sulfur, and Oxygen Isotope Ratios of Animal- And Plant-Based Organic Fertilizers Used in South Korea

Nitrogen, Sulfur, and Oxygen Isotope Ratios of Animal- And Plant-Based Organic Fertilizers Used in South Korea

Woo-Jin Shin et al. J Environ Qual.

Abstract

Organic fertilizers are increasingly used in agriculture in Asia and elsewhere. Tracer techniques are desirable to distinguish the fate of nutrients added to agroecosystems with organic fertilizers from those contained in synthetic fertilizers. Therefore, we determined the nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen isotope ratios of nitrogen- and sulfur-bearing compounds in animal- and plant-based organic fertilizers (ABOF and PBOF, respectively) used in South Korea to evaluate whether they are isotopically distinct. The δN values of total and organic nitrogen for ABOF ranged from +7 to +19‰ and were higher than those of PBOF (generally <+6‰). This suggests that ABOFs have distinct δN values suitable for tracing these fertilizer compounds in the plant-soil-water system, whereas PBOFs have similar δN values to synthetic fertilizers. However, δO values for nitrate (δO) from organic fertilizer samples (<+17.0‰) were consistently lower than those of synthetic nitrate-containing fertilizers. The δS values of total sulfur, organic sulfur compounds (e.g., carbon-bonded sulfur and hydriodic acid-reducible sulfur), and sulfate for ABOFs yielded wide and overlapping ranges of +0.3 to +6.3, +0.9 to +7.2, and -2.6 to +14.2‰, whereas those for PBOFs varied from -3.4 to +7.7, +1.4 to +9.4, and -4.1 to +12.5‰, respectively, making it challenging to distinguish the fate of sulfur compounds from ABOF and PBOF in the environment using sulfur isotopes. We conclude that the δN values of ABOFs and the O values of organic fertilizers are distinct from those of synthetic fertilizers and are a promising tool for tracing the fate of nutrients added by organic fertilizers to agroecosystems.

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