Poly-γ-glutamic acid (γ-PGA) is a soil amendment that has been shown to enhance soil water retention capacity. However, the effects of γ-PGA on soil NH3 volatilization, soil nitrogen pool, and crop growth have been rarely studied. This study aimed to investigate the effect of γ-PGA on NH3 volatilization, soil mineral nitrogen content (NH4+ -N and NO3- -N), and soybean seed productivity. We conducted an incubation experiment and a pot experiment using two different textured soils (sandy soil and sandy loam soil) with four γ-PGA application rates (0, 0.1, 0.3, and 0.5%, w/w). The results showed that the application of γ-PGA decreased the peak value of NH3 volatilization and cumulative NH3 emission through the incubation experiment. Cumulative NH3 volatilization decreased with increasing γ-PGA application amount. The addition of γ-PGA to sandy soil and sandy loam soil increased soil N content by 17–63% and 7–33%, respectively. Based on pot experimental results and principal component analysis, we recommend the optimal rates of γ-PGA application were 0.3% (w/w) in sandy soil and 0.1% (w/w) in sandy loam soil. This study provides a theoretical basis for the addition of γ-PGA as a promising strategy to reduce NH3 volatilization and increase soil nitrogen content.

  • An incubation experiment found that applying γ-PGA could significantly reduce NH3 volatilization.

  • Applying γ-PGA could not reduce soil inorganic nitrogen content by an incubation experiment.

  • Adding γ-PGA with 0.3 and 0.1% (w/w) in sandy soil and sandy loam is an appropriate strategy for this study.

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