Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 2330–2345 | Cite as

Effect of treated farm dairy effluents, with or without animal urine, on nitrous oxide emissions, ammonia oxidisers and denitrifiers in the soil

  • Siyu Chen
  • Hong Jie DiEmail author
  • Keith C. Cameron
  • Andriy Podolyan
  • Jupei Shen
  • Jizheng He
Soils, Sec 3 • Remediation and Management of Contaminated or Degraded Lands • Research Article



In New Zealand, the application of farm dairy effluent (FDE) on pasture soils is the third largest source of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from grazed grassland. Recently, new FDE treatment technologies have been developed to produce clarified water (CW) and treated effluent (TE) to recycle water and reduce the volume of fresh water used at the farm dairy. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of CW and TE with those of FDE on N2O emissions and the growth of ammonia-oxidising bacteria (AOB), ammonia-oxidising archaea (AOA) and denitrifiers, when the effluents were applied to a grazed pasture soil.

Materials and methods

A microcosm incubation study was carried out to determine the effects of applying CW, TE and untreated FDE, with or without animal urine, on N2O emissions, and the abundance of AOB, AOA and the denitrifying functional genes, including nirS, nirK and nosZ. The soil used was a Templeton silt loam (Udic Haplustepsts). The effluents were applied at nitrogen (N) rates equivalent to 100 kg N ha−1 and the animal urine at 700 kg N ha−1. The soils were incubated at 12 °C to simulate autumn/winter soil temperatures in New Zealand, and the soil moisture was maintained at field capacity.

Results and discussion

Results showed that the application of all the different effluents significantly increased the total N2O emissions (0.21–0.28 kg N2O-N ha−1) compared with that in the control (0.18 kg N2O-N ha−1). However, there were no significant differences in total N2O emissions between the different effluent treatments. Similarly, although the application of animal urine together with the different effluents further increased N2O emissions (7.7–8.8 kg N2O-N ha−1) above that from the urine only treatment (5.8 kg N2O-N ha−1), there were no significant differences among the different effluent plus urine treatments. These N2O results corresponded with the changing trends of the abundance of AOB, AOA, nirS, nirK and nosZ, that is the application of the CW, TE and FDE, with or without animal urine, had a similar impact on the growth dynamics of these microbial populations.


These results indicate that the application of the CW and TE to dairy pasture soils would have a similar effect on N2O emissions, ammonia oxidisers and denitrifiers as that of the untreated FDE, with or without animal urine. The treated effluent or clear water from the new effluent treatment technology would therefore not increase N2O emissions nor adversely affect the key microbial populations involved in N cycling in soil.


Ammonia-oxidising archaea Ammonia-oxidising bacteria Clarified water Denitrifiers Effluent treatment technology Farm dairy effluent Nitrous oxide Treated effluent Urine 



We would like to thank Jie Lei, Carole Barlow, Steve Moore and Emily Huang of Lincoln University for the technical support.

Funding information

The study received a catalyst fund from the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and funding support from Ravensdown, Ltd., and the Programme of Intergovernmental Cooperation in Science and Technology (2017YFE0109800).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Soil and Environmental ResearchLincoln UniversityChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Research Centre for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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