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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Nitrate Accumulation in Soils and Loss in Tile Drainage Following Nitrogen Applications to Continuous Corn1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 7 No. 2, p. 258-261
    Received: Aug 8, 1977

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  1. R. G. Gast,
  2. W. W. Nelson and
  3. G. W. Randall2



Nitrate-N concentration in tile water, loss from tile lines, and accumulation in soil profiles were determined following each of three annual applications of 20, 112, 224, and 448 kg N/ha to continuous corn (Zea mays L.) grown on a Webster clay loam (Typic Haplaquoll) in southern Minnesota. Plots were isolated to a depth of 1.8 m with plastic to allow an accurate assessment of the area drained. Water flow through the tile lines occurred annually for approximately 6 weeks in the period from mid-April through early July and constituted an equivalent from 20 to 46% of the precipitation during the flow periods and from 7 to 22% of the annual precipitation during the 3 years studied.

There was relatively little increased NO3-N accumulation in the soil profile or loss from tile lines at the recommended application rate of 112 kg N/ha compared to that for the check treatment. Nitrate-N losses through tile lines in 1975 (after 3 years treatment) were 19, 25, 59, and 120 kg/ha for the 20, 112, 224, and 448 kg N/ha applications, respectively, which had NO3-N accumulations in the 0–3 m soil profiles of 54, 100, 426, and 770 kg NO3-N/ha. Maximum NO3-N accumulation in the soil profiles occurred at a depth of about 1 m with little evidence of movement below about 2.2 m.

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