Growth and Nitrogen Partitioning, Recovery, and Losses in Bermudagrass Receiving Soluble Sources of Labeled 15Nitrogen

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Box 30003, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003

Two greenhouse studies were conducted to trace the fate of fertilizer N in hybrid bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. × C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davy `Tifgreen'], and to estimate total plant N recovery and losses. The first experiment was performed during winter, with artificial light supplementing natural light to provide a photoperiod of 13.6 to 13.8 hours. The second experiment was conducted during summer and fall under only natural light conditions, with a progressively decreasing photoperiod of 13.7 to 11.1 hours. Urea (UR), ammonium sulfate (AS), and ammonium nitrate (AN) were labeled at 2 atom% 15N, and applied at N rates of 100 or 200 kg·ha-1 for 84 days (divided into six equal fractions and applied every 14 days). Fertilizer N source did not affect total dry matter (DM) accumulation by the plant components, but the high N rate increased clipping DM production under the longer photoperiod. Under the decreasing photoperiod, overall DM production was reduced, and clipping DM production was unaffected by increased N rate. Average N concentration of clippings varied between N sources, ranging from a high of 38.6 g·kg-1 DM with AS to a low of 34.7 g·kg-1 for UR. In Expt. 1, the greatest total plant N recovery [clippings, verdure (shoot material remaining after mowing), and thatch plus roots] occurred with AS (78.5%) and the lowest with UR (65.9%). In Expt. 2, these values declined to 53.0% and 38.0%, respectively. Urea fertilization resulted in the greatest N losses as a fraction of the N applied (33.6% to 61.5%) and AS fertilization the lowest (20.7% to 46.3%). In view of the greater N losses, UR may be a less suitable soluble N source for bermudagrass fertilization within the conditions of this study. In addition, late-season N fertilization may result in a significant waste of fertilizer N as bermudagrass progresses into autumnal dormancy when temperature, photoperiod, and irradiance decline and cause reduction in growth and N uptake.

Contributor Notes

Assistant professor and corresponding author; e-mail: gpicchio@nmsu.edu.
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