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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 72 No. 5, p. 1330-1336
    Received: Aug 27, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): mreiter@vt.edu
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Cotton Nitrogen Management in a High-Residue Conservation System: Source, Rate, Method, and Timing

  1. M. S. Reiter *a,
  2. D. W. Reevesb and
  3. C. H. Burmesterc
  1. a Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ., Eastern Shore Agric. Research and Ext. Center, 33446 Research Dr., Painter, VA 23420
    b USDA-ARS, J. Phil Campbell Sr. Natural Resource Conserv. Center, 1420 Experiment Station Rd., Watkinsville, GA 30677
    c Auburn Univ., Agronomy and Soils Dep., 202 Funchess Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849


More than 70% of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) grown in the Tennessee Valley of northern Alabama is produced using conservation tillage systems with cereal cover crops. The resulting decreased N efficiency requires development of new N fertilizer recommendations. We conducted a replicated 3-yr field study on a Decatur silt loam (fine, kaolinitic, thermic Rhodic Paleudult) to determine the effects of N source (NHNO3 [AN] and urea–NH4NO3 [320 g N kg−1, UAN]), N rates (0, 45, 90, 135, and 180 kg N ha−1), N application timing (all at-planting or 50:50 split between planting and first match head square), and N application method (banded or broadcast) on cotton grown in high-residue rye (Secale cereale L.) conservation systems. Generally, 67 to 80% more N was needed than average conventional N rate recommendations to reach optimal yields if N was split applied, while N applied at-planting had yield responses with 169% of the recommended N rate. Urea–NH4NO3 applications resulted in greater yields when banded at-planting (1045 kg lint ha−1), while AN was more effective when broadcast applied at-planting or in split applications (1002 and 996 kg lint ha−1, respectively). Chlorophyll meter readings, petiole NO3, and leaf N were not useful predictors of cotton N deficiency or yield. The most efficient practice is to apply 88% more N (126 kg N ha−1 total) than the mean conventional N cotton recommendation as a broadcast split application using AN. We speculate that N requirements may be decreased with time as C and N pools reach a new equilibrium.

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