1029 PREDICTING IN-SEASON NITROGEN REQUIREMENTS FOR IRRIGATED POTATOES USING NITRATE SAPTESTS

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  • 1 Department of Soil Science, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108

Applying appropriate rates of nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season for potatoes on irrigated sandy soils is an important concern from both a production and environmental standpoint. Although potatoes on sandy soils are responsive to nitrogen fertilizer, high rates of nitrogen applied early in the growing season have been associated with nitrate leaching due to unpredictable rainfall. Use of lower nitrogen rates applied more frequently through the season is one strategy to minimize nitrate losses and improve nitrogen use efficiency. Portable nitrate electrodes were used to measure nitrate concentrations in petiole sap. Diagnostic criteria based on final yield and nitrate sap concentrations at various growth stages were developed over a three year period. This rapid test can now be used to make an immediate assessment of nitrogen status of the plant and a prediction for whether supplemental nitrogen will be needed. On-farm trials are currently being carried out to demonstrate the use of the saptest as a best management practice.

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