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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Soil Nitrate-Nitrogen under Tomato following Tillage, Cover Cropping, and Nitrogen Fertilization


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 28 No. 6, p. 1837-1844
    Received: Oct 6, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): sainjuu@mail.fvsu.edu
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  1. Upendra M. Sainju *,
  2. Bharat P. Singh,
  3. Syed Rahman and
  4. V. R. Reddy
  1. Agricultural Research Station, Fort Valley State Univ., 1005 State University Dr., Fort Valley, GA;
    USDA-ARS-NRI Remote Sensing and Modelling Lab., Beltsville, MD 20705.



Management practices can influence NO3-N content and movement in the soil. We examined the influence of 3 yr of tillage [no-till (NT), chisel (CH), and moldboard (MB)], cover crop [hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) (HV), and no hairy vetch (NHV)], and N fertilization (0, 90, and 180 kg N ha−1) on residual NO3-N content and movement on a Norfolk sandy loam (fine-loamy, siliceous, thermic, Typic Kandiudults) under tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) in central Georgia. Because of low N recovery by tomato, NO3-N content in the soil increased with depth, regardless of treatments, and ranged from 127 to 316 kg ha−1 at 0- to 120-cm depth in the fall (September 1997). The content increased with increasing rate of N addition from cover crop residue and N fertilizer. From fall to spring (March 1998), 22 to 58% (37 to 129 kg NO3-N ha−1) of this content was lost, mostly due to leaching. Greater loss occurred in NT than in CH or MB, with HV than with NHV, and with 180 or 90 than with 0 kg N ha−1. Similarly, greater loss at 0- to 60-cm than at 60- to 120-cm depth and significant correlation between soil NO3-N and clay concentration with depth indicates that NO3-N moved from the surface layer to the underlying clay layer, where it moved slowly. Nitrate-N content and movement in the soil from cover crop residue and N fertilizer were similar. Minimum tillage reduced NO3-N movement compared with NT, yet avoided the negative effects on soil and water quality associated with MB. Although HV increased tomato N uptake and recovery, it was not effective in reducing NO3-N content and movement compared with N fertilizer.

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