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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 23 No. 2, p. 337-343
    Received: Nov 18, 1991

    * Corresponding author(s):
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Nitrate Leaching from Nitrogen-Fertilized and Manured Corn Measured with Zero-Tension Pan Lysimeters

  1. John M. Jemison * and
  2. Richard H. Fox
  1. 4 95 College Ave., Orono, ME 04473-1294;
    D ep. of Agronomy, 116 ASI Bldg., Penn State Univ., University Park, PA 16802.



Excessive N fertilization increases the potential for nitrate (NO3) leaching, but no research has evaluated NO3 leaching from corn (Zea mays L.) receiving economic optimum N rates (EON). This study assessed (i) flow-weighted average concentration and mass of nitrate-N (NO3-N) leached from nonmanured and manured corn treated with five fertilizer N levels and at EON, and (ii) the relationship between NO3-N mass in the 1.2-m soil profile following harvest and the flow-weighted average leachate concentrations. Following application of liquid dairy manure each April, the field was chiseled and disked prior to planting. Ammonium nitrate was broadcast at planting (0–200 kg N ha−1 in 50-kg increments and 0–100 kg N ha−1 in 25-kg increments) in the nonmanured and manured corn. Eighteen (0.465 m2) pan lysimeters were placed 1.2 m below the soil surface in zero, intermediate, and high N treatments. Zero-N plots had 3-yr average flow-weighted leachate concentrations less than 10 mg NO3-N L−1. At EON, the 3-yr averages were 18.8 and 19.3 mg NO3-N L−1 for nonmanured and manured corn. Nitrogen rate influenced mass of NO3-N leached only when collection efficiency estimates were used to account for pan bypass flow. In the nonmanured corn, the 3-yr average amount of NO3-N leached was 107 kg ha−1 or 36% of the N applied at EON. Total mass of NO3-N in the 1.2-m soil profile following harvest was useful to predict annual flow-weighted average leachate NO3-N concentrations, but this is not practical in most soils of the Northeast.

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