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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 68 No. 1, p. 89-94
    Received: Jan 17, 1975

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Corn Growth as Affected By Ammonium vs. Nitrate Absorbed From Soil1

  1. D. W. Dibb and
  2. L. F. Welch2



The effect of NH4 on corn (Zea mays L.) growth in a soil medium is of interest because of the possibility of significantly decreasing leaching and denitrification losses of applied N by preserving N in the NH4 form. The objective of this investigation was to determine growth and nutrient content of corn plants when the principal form of N was either NH4 or NO3.

Corn, grown in the greenhouse in a soil medium, was allowed to absorb N as either NH4 or NO3. A chemical nitrification inhibitor and different sources of added N were used to manipulate the form of N available for absorption. The maximum amount of N absorbed as NO3 was estimated as the difference between the NO3 content of fallow and cropped pots at harvest. Plants grown with NH4 and a nitrification inhibitor were estimated to have absorbed at least 95% of their N as NH4. Other plants absorbed N almost solely as NO3. The effect of NH4 versus NO3 absorption on stover yield, percent N, Ca, Mg, K, and P in the plant was determined.

Yield of corn plants was not negatively affected by form of N absorbed when the meq ratio of applied N:K was 2:1. Visual tissue damage and decreased yield were symptomatico f NH4 nutrition where the meq applied N:K ratio was 3.3, 4.0, 4.4, 6.6, and 8.0. Nutrient content of the plants reflected strong cation:cation and cation:anion interactions among N form absorbed and Ca, Mg, K, and P. Soil pH appeared to be affected less by form of N absorbed by the corn plants than by nitrification of applied NH4.

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