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Agronomy Journal Abstract - NUTRIENT CYCLING

Soil Nitrogen Amendment Effects on Seasonal Nitrogen Mineralization and Nitrogen Cycling in Maize Production


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 91 No. 6, p. 1003-1009
    Received: Nov 4, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): mab@em.agr.ca
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  1. B.L. Ma *a,
  2. Lianne M. Dwyera and
  3. Edward G. Gregoricha
  1.  aEastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre (ECORC), Central Experimental Farm, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Branch, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0C6


Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) is a measure of the extent to which a crop transforms available N to economic yield. Seasonal N mineralization of organic amendments increases available N and, depending on the timing of mineralization and crop requirements for N, may improve NUE while reducing soil N losses. A two-year study was conducted in an ongoing five-year field experiment (1992–1996) on a Brandon loam soil (fine-loamy, mixed, mesic Typic Endoaquoll) (Orthic Humic Gleysol) at the Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, ON, Canada (45°23′ N, 75°43′ W). Our objectives were to (i) quantify the effects of inorganic N fertilizer, stockpiled (SM), and rotted manure (RM) application on seasonal N mineralization and (ii) monitor the mineral N balance in the soil–plant system. Application of manure at the highest rate having a mineral N (NH+ 4 plus NO 3) of ≈100 kg N ha−1 and up to 800 kg N ha−1 of total N resulted in up to 120 kg ha−1 of net N mineralized. The potential loss of this mineralized N was minimized during the growing season compared with inorganic fertilizer application because of the synchronization of soil N release and uptake by maize (Zea mays L.). In soil receiving 200 kg inorganic N ha−1, the amount of net N mineralized over the season was between 130 and 170 kg ha−1, but large losses of mineral N from the rooting zone occurred during the same period. The amount of net N mineralized over the season accounted for up to half of the plant N uptake in all treatments; for example, the amount of net N mineralized in manured soils represented about 30 to 60% of total plant N. It appears that a priming effect on soil mineral N occurred in all treatments during the vegetative period. This resulted in a curvilinear relationship between net N mineralization rate and soil mineral N levels at pre-planting that reached a plateau at ≈140 kg N ha−1 The rate of N mineralization during the grain-filling period was approximately the same at both levels of inorganic N fertilizer, but was, on average, three times higher under manure treatments. Compared with N mineralization under the 200 kg N ha−1 fertilizer treatment, all manure treatments resulted in higher rates of net N mineralization during the grain-filling period.

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