Effects of Fertigation and Ground Application on Nutrient Movement and Tree Response in Eastern Soils

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  • 1 Dept. of Fruit & Vegetable Science, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853-5908

Distribution of nutrients was evaluated in samples collected at various depths and distances from drip emitters after 8 years of application. Nutrients applied to soil surface influenced levels mainly in top 40 cm of the soil profile, while fertigation resulted in movement to depth of 80 cm within the wetted zone. NO3-N was increased in 0- to 40-cm depths by soil surface application, but below 40 cm by fertigation. Fertigation increased P in wetted zone to a 40-cm depth. Surface-applied K increased levels in the 0- to 20-cm zone, while fertigation increased K to the 80-cm depth. Zn and Cu were increased to 80 cm by fertigation. Growth and yield indicate soil surface application of fertilizers plus drip irrigation to be comparable to fertigation in most experiments. Fertigation of mature trees on M.7 with K + B for 3 years did not show consistent positive effects on fruit size or color. Responses associated with fertigation appear to be largely attributable to irrigation unless soil nutrient supplies are inadequate.

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