Nitrogen tracers have commonly been applied to accomplish three main research goals (1) to trace the N fate and flows; (2) to quantify the flow rates of different sources to a process or pool sink, also in N balance studies; (3) to study metabolic processes through the isotopic discrimination associated with them (Shearer and Kohl 1993).
In this paragraph, only the identification of the contribution of different sources to a common sink will be discussed, this estimation being the main goal of many studies evaluating the N cycle in agricultural ecosystem, as in the MESCOSAGR project. The calculation theory used to estimate the source contribution is reported along with various applications to plant-soil systems.
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