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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 72 No. 1, p. 143-150
    Received: June 1, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): lgbundy@wisc.edu
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Evaluation of the Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test for Predicting Corn Nitrogen Needs

  1. Jeffrey T. Osterhaus,
  2. Larry G. Bundy * and
  3. Todd W. Andraski
  1. Dep. of Soil Science, 1525 Observatory Dr., Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 53706-1299


Development of a diagnostic test to estimate soil N supplying capability is a continuing research need. The Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test (ISNT) has been proposed as a method for adjusting corn (Zea mays L.) N recommendations to account for soil organic N contributions by measuring hydrolyzable amino sugar-N and NH4–N. The ISNT was evaluated as a tool for predicting corn N response in Wisconsin by comparing ISNT values and corn N response data from 80 experiments conducted between 1984 and 2004 with a range of crop rotations, management histories, and soils. Relationships between various hydrolyzable soil N fractions (including amino sugar-N) and corn N response data were also evaluated using a subset (13 sites) of the 80 N response experiments. The subset was selected to obtain a wide range of anticipated soil N availability. Results showed that ISNT values were not related to observed economic optimum N rates in the corn N response experiments and that the ISNT had no ability to separate N-responsive from unresponsive sites. Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test values were well correlated (R 2 = 0.88) with the soil organic matter content of the experimental sites, suggesting that the ISNT is measuring a constant fraction of the soil organic N rather than the readily mineralizable N component. Soil organic N fractions measured in 13 experiments were not related to corn N response although these experiments included cropping systems ranging from first-year corn following alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) to continuous corn. Results from this work indicate that the ISNT and the soil organic N fractions studied are not reliable predictors of corn N response.

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