David Burton



Email: dburton@dal.ca
Phone: 902.893.6250
Mailing Address: 
Department of Plant, Food, and Environmental Sciences
Agricultural Campus
PO Box 550
Truro, NS, B2N 5E3

Memberships and Affiliations

  • President-Elect Canadian Society of Soil Science
  • Associate Editor Canadian Journal of Soil Science
  • Member of Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists
  • Member of the Soil Science Society of America

Greenhouse Gas Analysis Lab

This lab provides analytical support for the measurement of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O) in stored samples. This provides a cost-effective means of measuring greenhouse gas emissions from a wide range of ecosystems.


Dr. Burton’s research examines the role of the soil environment in influencing the nature and extent of microbial metabolism in soil. His current research programs involve an examination of the production and consumption of greenhouse gases in natural and agricultural landscapes, sustainable manure management practices, bioremediation of hydrocarbon contaminated soil and the assessment of the quality of the soil biological environment and its influence on overall soil quality. It is the aim of this work to better understand the factors that control microbial metabolism and to use this information to developing sustainable land management systems.


  • SOIL 3000 – Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management – This course provides detailed information on plant nutrition, soil fertility, and fertilizer management of the essential plant macro  and micronutrients. The influence of numerous soil biological, physical, and chemical properties on plant nutrient availability to crops will be emphasized. Students will be familiar with the management of nutrients to optimize productivity and minimize environmental impact.
  • ENVS 4006 – Air, Climate and Climate Change - This course examines the composition of our atmosphere and how it functions to create weather and climate.  A fundamental understanding of chemistry and physics of atmospheric processes will provide the basis for an examination of micro, regional and global scale meteorological processes.  The expression of these meteorological processes will be examined over time and space as a means of examining climate and climate change.  The global debate surrounding anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and climate change will be considered from scientific, social and political perspectives.  The laboratory portion of the class will examine the tools for measuring the composition of the atmosphere, the physical state of the atmosphere and the transfers of heat and mass to and within the atmosphere.
  • MICR 4000/AGRI 5125 – Soil Microbiology - This course focuses on the life that inhabits the soil and the various functions mediated by these organisms.  It is not an exhaustive taxonomy of organisms but rather a survey of the major types of organisms and an examination of their role in soil function.  The role of soil biology in ecosystem function will be examined and how management influences soil biological function.  Challenges to, and emerging opportunities in, the measurement of soil biological processes will also be considered.
  • RESM 4006 – Environmental Sciences Project Semiar I - the first of the Project-Seminar courses required of all students enrolled in the Environmental Sciences major. RESM4006 is designed to develop a proposal and literature review for a research or design project. The results of which will be the basis of their final report due during the second Project-Seminar course (RESM4007). The course emphasizes communication skills - written, verbal, and electronic. Students prepare a written research proposal and a literature review. Each student also presents a seminar on their project and are required to participate in all class discussions.

Recent Publications

  1. Snowden, E.1 , Zebarth, B.J., Burton, D.L., Goyer, C. and Rochette, P. Growing season N2O emissions from two-year potato rotations in a humid environment in New Brunswick, Canada. Can. J. Soil Sci. (accepted April 15, 2013)
  2. Dessureault-Rompré, J., Zebarth, B.J., Burton, D.L., Gregorich, E.G., Georgallas, A. and Grant, C.A. Are soil mineralizable nitrogen pools replenished during the growing season in agricultural soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. (accepted January 15, 2013)
  3. Tatti, E., Goyer, C., Zebarth, B.J., Burton, D.L., Giovannetti, L. and Viti, C. Short term effects of mineral and organic fertilizer on denitrifiers, nitrous oxide emissions and denitrification in long-term amended vineyard soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. (accepted October 21, 2012).
  4. Wertz, S. Goyer, C., Zebarth, B.J., Burton, D.L., Tatti, E., Chantigny, M., Filion, M. Effects of temperatures near the freezing point on N2O emissions, denitrification and on the abundance and structure of nitrifying and denitrifying soil communities. FEMS Microbiology Ecology (accepted August 3, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2012.01468.x).
  5. Sharifi, M., Zebarth, B.J., Burton, D.L., and Drury, CF. Mineralization of 14C-Labelled Plant Residues and Microbial Assimilation as Influenced by Residue Placement and Soil Depth in Conventional Tillage and No-Tillage Systems. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. (accepted Oct. 5, 2012).
  6. Miller, M.N., Dandie, C.E., Zebarth, B., Burton, D.L., Goyer, C. and Trevors, J. 2012. J. Influence of carbon amendments on soil denitrifier abundance in soil microcosms. Geoderma 170, 48-55.
  7. Roper, J.D., Burton, D.L., Madani, A. and Stratton, G.W. A simple method for quantifying dissolved nitrous oxide in tile drainage water. Can. J. Soil Sci. (accepted Aug 31, 2012).
  8. Zebarth, B.J., Snowdon, E., Burton, D.L., Goyer, C., Dowbenko, D. 2012. Controlled release fertilizer product effects on potato crop response and nitrous oxide emissions under rain-fed production on a medium-textured soil. Can. J. Soil Sci. 92, 759-769. (R=2; IF=1.98; C=0)
  9. Georgallas, A., Dessureault-Rompre´, J., Zebarth, B. J., Burton, D. L., Drury, C. F. and Grant, C. A. 2012. Modification of the biophysical water function to predict the change in soil mineral nitrogen concentration resulting from concurrent mineralization and denitrification. Can. J. Soil Sci. Can. J. Soil Sci. 92, 695-710. (R=2; IF=1.98; C=0)
  10. Nyiraneza, J., Zebarth, B.J., Ziadi, N., Sharifi, M., Burton, D.L., Drury, C.F., Bittman, S. and Grant, C.A. Prediction of soil nitrogen supply in corn production using soil chemical and biological indices. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. (accepted December 21, 2011). (R=3; IF=1.98; C=1).
  11. Cooper, J.M., Burton, D.L., Daniell, T.J., Grifiths, B.S. and Zebarth, B.J. 2011. Carbon mineralization kinetics and soil biological characteristics as influenced by manure addition in soil incubated at a range of temperatures. European Journal of Soil Biology 47, 392-399. (R=1; IF=1.578; C=0).
  12. Dessureault-Rompré, J., Zebarth, B.J., Georgallas, A., Burton, D.L., Grant, C.A. 2011. A biophysical water function to predict the response of soil nitrogen mineralization to soil water content. Geoderma 167-68, 214-227. (R=2; IF=2.318; C=3).
  13. Shannon, K.E., Saleh-Lakha, S., Burton, D.L., Zebarth, B.J., Goyer, C. and Trevors, J.T. 2011. Effect of nitrate and glucose addition on denitrification and nitric oxide reductase (cnorB) gene abundance and mRNA levels in Pseudomonas mandelii inoculated into anoxic soil. Antonie van Leeuwenhoel 100, 183-195. (R=2; IF=2.019; C=0).
  14. Dandie, C.E., Wertz, S., LeClair, C., Goyer, C. Burton, D.L., Patten C.L., Zebarth, B.J. and Trevors, J. T. 2011. Abundance, diversity and functional gene expression of denitrifier communities in adjacent riparian and agricultural zones. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 2011, 1-14. (R=2; IF=3.41; C=6).
  15. Dessureault-Rompré, J., Zebarth*, B.J., Chow, T.L., Burton, D.L., Sharifi, M., Georgallas, A., Porter, G.A., Moreau, G., Leclerc, Y., Arsenault, W.J., Grant, C.A. 2011. Prediction of soil nitrogen supply in potato fields in a cool humid climate. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 75, 626-637. (R=2; IF=1.98; C=2).

Complete list of Publications

1 Graduate students and post-doctoral fellows (HQP) indicated in italics.

 R(role): 1 = Senior author or supervisor of senior author; 2 = direct participation in research team; 3 = advisory committee.  IF = Impact Factor. C = number of times cited.