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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 34 No. 5, p. 1651-1664
    Received: Jan 28, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): bedard.haughn@usask.ca
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Quantifying the Impact of Regular Cutting on Vegetative Buffer Efficacy for Nitrogen-15 Sequestration

  1. A. Bedard-Haughn *ab,
  2. K. W. Tatea and
  3. C. van Kessela
  1. a Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
    b Current address: Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5A8, Canada


This study used the stable 15N isotope to quantitatively examine the effects of cutting on vegetative buffer uptake of NO3 –N based on the theory that regular cutting would increase N demand and sequestration by encouraging new plant growth. During the summer of 2002, 10 buffer plots were established within a flood-irrigated pasture. In 2003, 15N-labeled KNO3 was applied to the pasture area at a rate of 5 kg N ha−1 and 99.7 atom % 15N. One-half of the buffer plots were trimmed monthly. In the buffers, the cutting effect was not significant in the first few weeks following 15N application, with both the cut and uncut buffers sequestering 15N. Over the irrigation season, however, cut buffers sequestered 2.3 times the 15N of uncut buffers, corresponding to an increase in aboveground biomass following cutting. Cutting and removing vegetation allowed the standing biomass to take advantage of soil 15N as it was released by microbial mineralization. In contrast, the uncut buffers showed very little change in 15N sequestration or biomass, suggesting senescence and a corresponding decrease in N demand. Overall, cutting significantly improved 15N attenuation from both surface and subsurface water. However, the effect was temporally related, and only became significant 21 to 42 d after 15N application. The dominant influence on runoff water quality from irrigated pasture remains irrigation rate, as reducing the rate by 75% relative to the typical rate resulted in a 50% decrease in total runoff losses and a sevenfold decrease in 15N concentration.

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Copyright © 2005. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyASA, CSSA, SSSA