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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 4 No. 3, p. 403-405
    Received: Jan 17, 1975

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Nitrate-nitrogen Removal from Soil Profiles by Alfalfa1

  1. A. C. Mathers,
  2. B. A. Stewart and
  3. Betty Blair2



Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L. ‘Cody’) was established in the fall of 1971 on plots previously treated with 0, 22, 45, 112, or 224 metric tons/ha of manure annually for 3 years. Additional plots had received 224 kg N/ha (as NH4NO3) annually for 3 years. Nitrate-nitrogen and water contents of the soil profile were determined by 30-cm increments to 6 m prior to planting. Nitrate-nitrogen was found to 6 m, but the largest concentrations were in the top 1.8 m, where amounts of NO3-N varied from 100 to 2,400 kg/ha. Additional profile samples were taken in 1972 and 1973 after the final cutting of alfalfa. The data showed that alfalfa removed water and NO3-N to a 1.8-m depth the first year and to 3.6 m the second year. These results indicate that alfalfa could remove NO3-N from the lower depth of soil profiles where annual crops were not effective. Yield, NO3-N, and P contents of alfalfa were increased by manure. Total N taken up by the crop was directly related to the yield.

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