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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 44 No. 5, p. 978-982
    Received: Jan 13, 1980
    Accepted: June 2, 1980

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Carbon and Nitrogen Movement from Surface-Applied Wheat (Triticum aestivum) Straw1

  1. V. L. Cochran,
  2. L. F. Elliott and
  3. R. I. Papendick2



The N immobilization potential of surface-applied wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) straw as compared with incorporated straw was evaluated in the laboratory with soil columns. The columns were leached weekly and C and N content of the leachate determined. Leachate C/N ratios for straw alone exceeded 20:1 on several occasions and reached a maximum of 56, indicating a potential for N immobilization. Less than 5% of the total C in the straw was recovered in the leachates, providing an immobilization potential of <5 kg N ha−1. Leachate C/N ratios from 1-, 2-, and 4-cm deep soil columns with surface-applied wheat straw and no fertilizer N ranged up to 55:1, 30:1, and 22:1, respectively, while the highest leachate C/N ratio from the 4-cm mixed straw treatment was 30:1. A significant percentage of mineralized N was immobilized in the top 1 and 2 cm of soil by surface residues. Much less N was immobilized in the 4-cm soil columns. Thus, placement of fertilizer N several centimeters below the soil surface would alleviate possible N immobilization from organic C leached from surface crop residues.

The amount of applied N recovered in the leachate during 9 weeks of incubation ranged from 60 to 70% for all soil column treatments with or without surface straw. There was no significant differences between treatments. In contrast, the recovery of applied N from the mixed straw treatment was only 36%, indicating a much greater potential for N immobilization with mixed than with surface straw. The quantity of the fertilizer N added probably masked the immobilization potential of the surface residues. Fertilizer N stimulated early release of C from the straw alone treatment, but after 9 weeks of incubation the overall C loss from both fertilized and unfertilized straw was about 30%.

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