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Agronomy Journal Abstract - NITROGEN MANAGEMENT

Nitrogen Fertilizer Use Efficiency of Furrow-Irrigated Onion and Corn


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 94 No. 3, p. 442-449
    Received: July 18, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): adhalvor@lamar.colostate.edu
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  1. Ardell D. Halvorson *a,
  2. Ronald F. Folletta,
  3. Michael E. Bartolob and
  4. Frank C. Schweissingb
  1. a USDA-ARS, P.O. Box E, Fort Collins, CO 80522
    b Colorado State Univ., Arkansas Valley Res. Cent., 27901 Road 21, Rocky Ford, CO 81067


Furrow-irrigated onion (Allium cepa L.) production, with high N fertilization rates, may be contributing NO3–N to ground water in southeastern Colorado. This study determined the growth and N uptake patterns of onion grown on a silty clay soil, N fertilizer use efficiency (NFUE) of onion, and recovery of residual N fertilizer by corn (Zea mays L.) following onion in rotation. Onion was sampled biweekly from 18 May to 15 Sept. 1998 from plots receiving 0 and 224 kg N ha−1 Nonlabeled N and labeled 15N fertilizer were band-applied near the onion row in split applications of 112 kg N ha−1 each on 18 May and 25 June. Onion dry matter accumulation was slow from planting to about late May, followed by a rapid increase in biomass production and N uptake. Because residual soil NO3–N was high, N fertilization resulted in only a small increase in bulb yield. Greatest demand for N by onion occurred during bulb development. Fertilizer N recovery by onion was 11 and 19% for May and June N applications (average 15%), respectively. Much of the fertilizer N remained in the upper 60-cm soil profile at harvest and had moved toward the onion bed center. Fertilizer 15N detected at 180-cm soil depth indicated leaching losses from the root zone. The unfertilized 1999 corn crop recovered 24% of fertilizer N applied to onion for a total fertilizer N uptake by the two crops of 39%. Delaying N fertilizer application until onion bulbing begins may improve NFUE. Planting corn directly on the previous onion bed may result in greater N fertilizer recovery by corn.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of AgronomyPublished in Agron. J.94:442–449.