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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Changes of Soil Nitrate-Nitrogen and Denitrification as Affected by Nitrogen Fertilizer on Two Quebec Soils


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 23 No. 3, p. 521-525
    Received: Sept 22, 1992

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. B. C. Liang * and
  2. A. F. MacKenzie
  1. Centre for Land and Biological Resources Research, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1A 0C6;
    Dep. of Natural Resource Science, Macdonald Campus of McGill Univ., 21 111 Lakeshore Road, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, PQ, Canada H9X 3V9.



Corn (Zea mays L.) production may result in NO3-N accumulation in soils because of high N fertilizer applications. Nitrate-N in soil may be lost by denitrification and leaching. Prediction of the amount lost would be helpful in minimizing these losses. Field experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of N fertilizer rates on soil NO3-N under corn on two soils of contrasting texture from 1988 to 1991 in southwestern Quebec. Denitrification as affected by previous N fertilizer rates was estimated for the nongrowing season of 1990–1991. Soil NO3-N levels in the fall increased linearly with increasing N fertilizer rates above the normal N rate both on clay and sandy clay loam soils. However, NO3-N could have been leached out of the rooting zone on the coarser Chicot soil (fine-loamy, mixed, frigid Typic Hapludalf) in the late growing season, depending on rainfall. The changes in soil NO3-N over winter were a function of both soil NO3-N levels the previous fall and over-winter precipitation. Denitrification losses varied from 7 to 24 kg ha−1 during the nongrowing season, increasing with N fertilizer rates only on the Ste. Rosalie clay soil (fine, mixed, frigid Typic Humaquept). In comparison with total NO3-N disappearance over the same period, losses of NO3-N due to denitrification were relatively small. Thus, significant portions of NO3-N losses were probably due to leaching both on clay and sandy clay loam soils.

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