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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Measuring Soil Nitrogen Mineralization Under Field Conditions1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 72 No. 6, p. 1009-1012
    Received: Sept 28, 1979

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  1. D. T. Westermann and
  2. S. E. Crothers2



The amount and rate of soil N mineralization are important components that can be used to predict preplant N fertilizer application and to evaluate the need for N fertilization during crop growth. This study‘s purpose was to evaluate the buried polyethylene bag technique as a method for characterizing the N mineralized under field conditions during the cropping season. Soil (Xerollic Calciorthids) was placed in polyethylene bag and buried in the 0 to 45 un root zone of fallowed soils and where corn (Zea mays L.) and potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) were being grown. The NO3-N content of the soil in the bags was compared with that in the root zone at selected time intervals (10 to 14 days) from April to October.

The soil NO3-N concentrations in the buried polyethylene bags were similar to those in irrigattd fallow soils from April to October after correction for different soil water contents. The N-mineralization rate between sampling intervals had an average temperature coefficient (Q10) of 2.3 between 10 C and 30 C. The relative N-mineralization rate was proportional to the soil water content expressed as a percentage of the available waterholding capacity. The N uptake by corn and potato crops predicted from NO3-N changes in the rooting zone and in the buried polyethylene bags resembled those measured by plant sampling. The buried polyethylene bag technique has potential for monitoring the soil N-mineraliition process during the cropping season and for estimating N uptake by crops. It also provides an alternative method for estimating soil N availability for future crops and its use should maximize N-fertilizer efficiencies.

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