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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 6, p. 1813-1820
    Received: Nov 12, 1999

    * Corresponding author(s): hmv1@cornell.edu
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Nitrate Leaching and Nitrogen Budget as Affected by Maize Nitrogen Rate and Soil Type

  1. Jean M. Sogbedji,
  2. Harold M. van Es *,
  3. Charissa L. Yang,
  4. Larry D. Geohring and
  5. Fred R. Magdoff
  1. D ep. of Agric. and Biol. Eng., Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853.
    D ep. of Plant and Soil Science, Univ. of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405.



Leaching loss as nitrate (NO3) is a growing concern because of its potential effect on water resources. Leaching of NO3 with drainage water from subsurface-drained field plots seeded to maize (Zea mays L.) in 1992, 1993, and 1994 was measured on two soil types (a clay loam and a loamy sand) and for three N fertilization rates (22, 100, and 134 kg N ha−1). The 100 kg ha−1 rate was based on the results of a presidedress nitrate test (PSNT). Nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N) leaching was similar between fertilizer N treatments at both sites in 1992, the first year after sod plowdown, but concentrations were greater than 10 mg L−1. For the subsequent two years, losses were similar for the 22 kg N ha−1 and the PSNT-based treatments, but significantly higher for the 134 kg N ha−1 treatment on the clay loam. On the loamy sand, losses increased from the lowest to the highest N rate. Nitrate leaching losses were consistently higher on the loamy sand than on the clay loam. The N budget results showed that the 134 kg N ha−1 rate had the highest residual soil NO3-N in the three years at both sites. On the clay loam, significant N losses occurred from denitrification following alfalfa plowdown and the subsequent fall and spring. Results indicate that N use efficiency rapidly decreases with overfertilization, even with N fertilization rates that only slightly exceed (134%) crop requirements. The PSNT-based rate reduced N leaching losses while maintaining maize yields.

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