Journal des effets et du contrôle de la pollution

Journal des effets et du contrôle de la pollution
Libre accès

ISSN: 2375-4397


Nitrogen Sources and Cycling in the Ecosystem and its Role in Air, Water and Soil Pollution: A Critical Review

Ghaly AE and Ramakrishnan VV

The natural cycle of nitrogen involves several biological and non-biological process including: mineralization, nitrification, denitrification, nitrogen fixation, microbial and plant uptake of nitrogen, ammonia volatilization, leaching of nitrite and nitrate and ammonia fixation. Nitrogen exists naturally in the environment and is constantly being converted from organic to an inorganic form and vice versa. Production of commercial fertilizer adds up to the natural source of nitrogen. The main source of nitrogen include: atmospheric precipitation, geological sources, agricultural land, livestock and poultry operations and urban waste. Agricultural emissions show a strong increase due to the application of fertilizer to agricultural soils, grazing of animals and spreading of animal manure. Emissions from agricultural practices and animal manure wastes are the major source of nitrogen pollution in surface and underground water. Soil erosion and runoff from fertilized land as well as domestic and industrial wastes contribute to the enrichment of lakes and streams with nutrients. Nitrates concentration exceeding certain limits in drinking water is toxic to animals and humans, especially infants. Nuisance of algal bloom and fish kills in lakes and rivers occurs due to eutrophication. Obnoxious colours and smells are developed as a result of organic matter decay and are destroying the natural beauty of the environment. The water born contaminants affect human health from both recreational use of contaminated surface water and from ingestion of contaminated drinking water derived from surface or ground water sources. The methods for abatement of nitrogen pollution must follow multi pathways. First, the source and amount of pollution must be detected and defined. Second, the possible ways to treat animal and domestic wastes should be carefully investigated. Third, better agricultural practices should be developed that include: proper storage and application of slurry and solid manure, rapid incorporation of slurry and solid manure into the soil, use of band spreading machineries such as trailing house and trailing shoe and sub-surface applicators, use of specifically made round covers fitted to above ground tanks and slurry lagoons, applying fertilizers during periods of greatest crop demand at or near the plant roots in smaller amounts with frequent applications, using multiple cropping systems such as using crop rotations or intercropping to increase the efficiency of nitrogen uses and changing current livestock production techniques.