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Influence of Large Amounts of Nitrogen on Nonirrigated and Irrigated Soybean


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 46 No. 1, p. 52-60
    Received: Jan 13, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): jray@ars.usda.gov
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  1. Jeffery D. Ray *a,
  2. Larry G. Heatherlyb and
  3. Felix B. Fritschic
  1. a Research Geneticist
    b Research Agronomist
    c Research Physiologist, USDA-ARS, Crop Genetics and Production Research Unit, P.O. Box 345, Stoneville, MS (662-686-3036).


Nitrogen supplied by N2 fixation to soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] may not be sufficient to maximize yield. Field studies were conducted in 2002, 2003, and 2004 on Sharkey clay soil (very-fine, smectitic, thermic Chromic Epiaquert) at Stoneville, MS (33°26′ N lat). The objective was to determine the effect of high rates of N applied as a replacement for N2 fixation in nonirrigated and irrigated environments. Eight cultivars ranging from Maturity Group II to IV were planted on 17 Apr. 2002, 2 Apr. 2003, and 25 Mar. 2004. Not all cultivars were evaluated in all 3 yr. Glyphosate herbicide was used in all 3 yr and a non-glyphosate herbicide treatment was applied in 2002. Cultivars grown in 2003 were also evaluated under an application of 21.3 kg ha−1 of Mn. All cultivar, herbicide, and Mn treatments were evaluated in irrigated and nonirrigated environments with fertilizer N (PlusN treatment) or without fertilizer N (ZeroN treatment). In the PlusN treatment, granular NH4NO3 was surface applied at soybean emergence at rates of 290 kg ha−1 in 2002, 310 kg ha−1 in 2003, and 360 kg ha−1 in 2004. When analyzed over all management practices (years, cultivars, herbicide, and Mn treatments), the PlusN treatment resulted in significantly decreased ureide concentration (57.2 and 53.5% reduction) and significantly increased biomass accumulation (14.1 and 16.7%), N accumulation (12.8 and 28.1%), and seed yield (7.7 and 15.5%) for the irrigated and nonirrigated environments, respectively. The majority of the yield increase in each environment resulted from increased number of seed (9.5% irrigated and 16.2% nonirrigated). These results confirm the sensitivity of N2 fixation to drought and indicate that N2 fixation may limit yield of soybean grown in both irrigated and nonirrigated environments of the midsouthern USA, and that N2 fixation deficiencies occur before the beginning of processes that determine number of seed.

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