Nitrogen Transformation in Low pH Soils for Cranberry

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706

Cranberry plants exclusively utilize ammonium forms of nitrogen. Nitrification of applied ammonium and subsequent leaching through sandy soils is a potential problem for growers. Peat, sand, and striped soils were collected in cranberry beds in central Wisconsin and soil pH was adjusted to 3.5, 4.5, or 5.5. Twenty-five grams of dry soil was placed in flasks and half the flasks were sterilized. Distilled water was added to half of the samples, and the other half received 15N-labeled ammonium. Flasks were incubated at 20°C for up to 70 days. Striped soils showed no nitrification at pH 3.5 or 4.5 during the 70 day incubation. At pH 5.5, nitrification began at 20 days and was almost complete at 70 days. Nitrification did not occur at any pH in sandy soils. This research suggests that ammonium fertilizer applied to cranberry is likely taken up before nitrification would occur.

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