Long-Term Continuous Corn and Nitrogen Fertilizer Effects on Productivity and Soil Properties
- Larry G. Bundy *,
- Todd W. Andraski,
- Matthew D. Ruark and
- Arthur E. Peterson
There are uncertainties about the sustainability of long-term monoculture and N fertilizer use in corn (Zea mays L.) production. This paper examines the effects of 50 yr (1958–2007) of continuous corn and N fertilizer use on corn yield, N use efficiency, soil pH, and organic matter content. Corn was harvested for grain with residues returned annually since 1958 on a Plano silt loam soil (fine-silty, mixed, superactive, mesic Typic Argiudolls) near Arlington, WI (43°18’ N; 89°21’ W). The experimental design includes three N fertilizer rates (currently 0, 140, and 280 kg N ha−1) and two lime treatments (imposed in 1985) with four replications. Soil pH and organic matter content were measured periodically during the experiment. Average corn yields in N fertilized treatments increased dramatically (100%) over time with some of the highest yields occurring in the most recent years. Apparent N use efficiency (kg grain kg−1 N fertilizer) also increased over time, thus higher yields in recent years have not required greater N fertilizer use. Results suggest that both hybrid genetic improvement and improved management techniques contributed to the long-term yield gain. Soil organic matter content was maintained or increased with long-term N additions, and since 1985, lime treatments increased yields in 14 of 23 yr. Increasing productivity and N use efficiency along with stable or increasing soil organic matter suggest that long-term continuous corn and N fertilizer use are sustainable practices. No evidence of a decline in productivity from long-term corn monoculture or N fertilizer use was detected.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
Copyright © 2011. . Copyright © 2011 by the American Society of Agronomy, Inc.