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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - SOIL FERTILITY & PLANT NUTRITION

Comparison of Soil Nitrogen Tests for Corn Fertilizer Recommendations in the Humid Southeastern USA


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 71 No. 1, p. 171-180
    Received: Feb 10, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): williams@byui.edu
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  1. Jared D. Williams *,
  2. Carl R. Crozier,
  3. Jeffrey G. White,
  4. Ravi P. Sripada and
  5. David A. Crouse
  1. D ep. of Agribusiness, Sci. and Tech., Brigham Young Univ.-Idaho, Rexburg, ID 83460-1110
    D ep. of Soil Science, Vernon James Research and Extension Center, 207 Research Rd., Plymouth, NC 27692
    D ep. of Soil Science, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695-7619
    D ep. of Crop Science, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695-7620


Environmental concerns about increasing NO3 levels in watersheds in North Carolina and elsewhere indicate the need for better N fertilizer management. Nitrate levels might be reduced if N rates could be adjusted based on field- or site-specific knowledge of corn (Zea mays L.) response to N fertilization. Currently, there is no effective soil N test for the humid southeastern USA. This study was conducted to compare three soil N tests for practicality, precision, and ability to correlate with economic optimum N rate (EONR) and fertilizer response on southeastern U.S. soils. The soil N tests were the Illinois soil N test (ISNT), the gas pressure test (GPT), and the incubation and residual N test (IRNT). Soil samples were collected from the sites of 16 N-response trials from 2001 to 2003 where different mineralizable and residual N levels were expected. The ISNT was determined to be the most practical test because it was the easiest to perform and could be completed in 1 d. The ISNT and GPT had better precision (lower CV) than the IRNT (9 and 13 vs. 61%, respectively). All three tests were related to EONR; ISNT had the strongest linear relationship (r 2 = 0.90) when consideration was restricted to sites on mineral soils. The ISNT and GPT were related to delta yield (maximum yield minus check yield; r 2 = 0.49 and 0.60, respectively) and fertilizer response (r 2 = 0.31 and 0.51, respectively). These results indicate the potential of the ISNT and GPT to account for mineralizable and residual soil N levels and thus improve current corn N recommendations in the humid southeastern USA.

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