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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 97 No. 4, p. 1046-1053
     
    Received: Dec 15, 2003


    * Corresponding author(s): bstevens@sidney.ars.usda.gov
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doi:10.2134/agronj2003.0313

Fate of Nitrogen-15 in a Long-Term Nitrogen Rate Study

  1. W. B. Stevens *a,
  2. R. G. Hoeftb and
  3. R. L. Mulvaneyc
  1. a USDA-ARS, Northern Plains Agric. Res. Lab., 1500 N. Central Ave., Sidney, MT 59270
    b Dep. of Crop Sci., 1102 S. Goodwin Ave., Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801
    c Dep. of Nat. Resour. and Environ. Sci., 1102 S. Goodwin Ave., Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801

Abstract

Increased fertilizer N uptake efficiency (FNUE) leads to more economical corn (Zea mays L.) production and lower environmental impact. Excessive N application reduces FNUE and may affect subsequent crop response through its influence on NO3–N carryover and the amount of readily mineralizable organic N in the soil. Our objective was to determine how prior fertilizer N application rate affects (i) grain yield and agronomic optimum N rate, (ii) contributions of fertilizer- and soil-derived N to N uptake, and (iii) FNUE. Labeled 15NH4 15NO3 was applied at 0, 67, 134, 201, or 268 kg N ha−1 to subplots within a continuous corn long-term N rate study. Estimates of FNUE were higher by the difference method (49–69%) than with the isotope (15N) method (31–37%), and different trends were observed with each method as N application rate increased. The disparity between methods is consistent with a differential effect of long-term N application rate on mineralization–immobilization. Recovery of labeled N from the plant–soil system ranged from 71% at the 67 kg ha−1 N application rate to 64% at the 201 kg ha−1 application rate. Fertilizer N accounted for an increasing proportion of crop N uptake as the N rate was increased, but soil N uptake was always more extensive, accounting for 54 to 83% of total plant N. Crop uptake of labeled N during the second growing season after 15N application ranged from 2.2 kg ha−1 with the lowest N rate to 7.8 kg ha−1 with the two highest rates.

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