Environmental Losses of Soil-applied Nitrogen Sources in Lowbush Blueberry Production

in HortScience

Environmental losses of soil-applied nitrogen fertilizers were examined during 2004 in commercial wild blueberry fields in the vegetative phase of production in Nova Scotia (NS) and Prince Edward Island (PE). A randomized complete-block experimental design with five treatments, five replications, a plot size of 8 × 6 m, and 2-m buffers between plots was used. Treatments consisted of a control (no fertilizer application) and nitrogen applications (N at 35 kg·ha-1) of ammonium sulphate (AS), urea (U), diammonium phosphate (DAP), and sulfur-coated urea (SCU). Nitrogen applications occurred on 19 May and 9 June at the Kemptown (NS) and Mount Vernon (PE) sites, respectively. Cumulative ammonia volatilization was determined through the use of open top chambers with volatilization samples collected on 1, 2, 5, 8, and 12 days after treatment application. In addition, leaf tissue and yield component data were collected. A significant volatilization treatment effect was present at the Kemptown site with the U and SCU treatments having volatilization rates that were 321% and 207% greater than the control, respectively. Therefore, results from this study indicate that volatilization losses are significant and site specific and can negatively influence blueberry growth.

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