691 PB 265 DRIP IRRIGATION AND FERTIGATION MANAGEMENT CAN MINIMIZE NITRATE LEACHING LOSSES

in HortScience

Trials were conducted under California field conditions examining the impact of drip irrigation and nitrogen fertigation regime on in-season NO3-N leaching losses. Six field studies were conducted, 4 on tomato and 2 on pepper. Seasonal fertigation ranged from 0-440 kg N/ha; irrigation was applied 3X per week, with leaching fractions of 10-25% of applied water. NO3-N leaching losses were estimated both by suction lysimetry and the use of buried anion resin traps. A similar pattern was seen in all trials. From transplant establishment until early fruit set soil solution at 0.8 m had relatively high NO3-N concentration (>30 mg/liter), which declined as the season progressed; in the month before harvest soil solution NO3-N at 0.8 m was consistently below 10 mg/liter (tomato) and 15 mg/liter (pepper) in appropriately fertilized plots. Seasonal NO3-N leaching estimates were generally below 25 kg/ha (tomato) and 35 kg/ha (pepper), with only modest differences among fertigation regimes. These results suggest that well managed drip irrigation can minimize in-season NO3-N leaching.

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