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

in HortScience
Author: T.K. Hartz1
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  • 1 Department of Vegetable Crops. University of California. Davis. CA 95616

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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