Nitrogen Dynamics in Agroecosystems

Excessive nitrogen as a result of agricultural production results in leaching of unused nitrates, which ultimately have severe consequences for surrounding watersheds. There are currently strategies in place that aim to reduce the amount of synthetic fertilizer applications; for example, the use of cover crops is known to simultaneously increase bioavailable nitrogen and soil organic matter, while reducing the need to introduce inorganic fertilizers. In order to further limit inorganic nitrogen additions, it is necessary to understand all facets of nitrogen dynamics within agroecosystems. It is well understood that nitrogen is highly mobile in the soil and that it can transcend multiple pools as it cycles through the system. However, the rate at which nitrogen moves about in addition to the quantity of nitrogen deposited into each pool still remain unclear. My research aims to identify drivers that regulate the rate and distribution of nitrogen into different pools.