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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 86 No. 4, p. 642-649
    Received: July 6, 1993

    * Corresponding author(s):
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Tracing Nitrogen Movement in Corn Production Systems in the North Carolina Piedmont: Analysis of Nitrogen Pool Size

  1. Carl R. Crozier ,
  2. Larry D. King and
  3. Greg D. Hoyt
  1. W etland Biogeochemistry Inst., Louisiana State Univ., Baton Rouge, LA 70803-7511, Formerly Dep. of Soil Science, North Carolina State Univ.
    D ep. of Soil Science, North Carolina State Univ., Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695-7619
    D ep. of Soil Science, North Carolina State Univ., Mountain Hortic. Crops Res. and Ext. Center, 2016 Fanning Bridge Rd., Fletcher, NC 28732-9216.



The fate of N in North Carolina Piedmont corn (Zea mays L.) was traced using N pool size analysis. In 1989 and 1990, selected N pools [corn; weeds; surface residues; and soil NH arrange="stack">+4 NO-3, and potentially mineralizable N (No)] were sequentially sampled in four reduced chemical input systems: (i) crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.) with conventional tillage (clover-till), (ii) no cover crop with conventional tillage and 70 kg N ha−1 as NH4NO3 (fertilizer-till), (iii) crimson clover with strip-tillage (clover-strip), and (iv) no cover crop with no tillage and 70 kg N ha−1 as NH4NO3 (fertilizer-no-till). The largest of the repeatedly measured N pools was soil No, which accounted for <10% of the total Kjeldahl soil N. Soil No was highest in the clover-till treatment, and had large seasonal fluctuations: 170 to 255 kg N ha−1 in clover- till, and 117 to 210 kg N ha−1 in other treatments. Fertilizer treatments had higher inorganic N levels than did clover treatments only immediately after fertilizer application. Although clover shoots contained 97 to 134 kg N ha−1 yr−1, more than the N applied to fertilizer treatments, no significant differences among treatments in plant (corn + weed) aboveground N accumulation (38 to 132 kg N ha−1) were observed. Of these totals, weed N accounted for 5 to 30 kg N ha−1. Surface residue N content was highest in reduced tillage treatments. In reduced chemical input systems such as these, N transfers among soil No, weed, and residue pools may be as large or larger than N transfers among soil inorganic and crop pools.

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