Leaching-induced N losses have been shown to be minimal under turfgrasses. This is likely due to superior ability of turfgrasses to absorb nitrate. No direct evidence for this theory has been reported. The present study quantified nitrate leaching under miniature turf and nitrate uptake by individual turfgrass plants, and established the relationship between nitrate leaching loss and nitrate uptake rate. Seedlings of six Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) cultivars, `Blacksburg', `Barzan', `Connie', `Dawn', `Eclipse', and `Gnome', were planted individually in polystyrene containers filled with silica sand. The plants were irrigated with tap water or a nutrient solution containing 1 mm nitrate on alternate days and mowed to a 5-cm height once each week for 25 weeks. Nitrate leaching potential was then determined by applying 15 to 52 mL of nutrient solutions containing 7 to 70 mg·L-1 nitrate-N into the containers and collecting leachate. After the leaching experiment, plants were excavated, roots were washed to remove sand, and the plants were grown individually in containers filled with 125 mL of a nutrient solution containing 8.4 mg·L-1 nitrate-N. Nitrate uptake rate was determined by monitoring nitrate depletion at 24-hour intervals. Leachate nitrate-N concentration ranged from 0.5 to 6 mg·L-1 depending on cultivar, initial nitrate-N concentration, irrigation volume, and timing of nitrate-N application. Significant intraspecific difference in nitrate uptake rate on a root length basis was observed. Nitrate uptake rate on a per plant basis was significantly (P ≤ 0.05) and negatively correlated (r = -0.65) with nitrate leaching loss. The results provide strong evidence that superior nitrate uptake ability of turfgrass roots could reduce leaching-induced nitrate-N losses.
John W. Pote, Chhandak Basu, Zhongchun Jiang, and W. Michael Sullivan
Luther C. Carson and Monica Ozores-Hampton
nutrients in the root zone by physical barriers (coating), reduced solubility, or retaining nutrients in a less leachable form ( Trenkel, 2010 ). There are three subgroups of EEFs with different characteristics for horticultural production systems. Slow
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.
Jianjun Chen, Yingfeng Huang, Zhen Yang, Russell D. Caldwell, and Cynthia A. Robinson
Containerized ornamental plant production represents extremely intensive agricultural production. An average of 200,000 containers may occupy 1 acre of surface area, to which a large amount of chemical fertilizers will be applied. Because of the use of high-drainage soilless potting mixes coupled with excessive fertigation, a great amount of nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, are leached, which increases the potential for ground and surface water contamination. Over the past 2 decades, research has been centered on developing fertigation delivery systems such as nutrient film techniques, ebb-and-flow and capillary mat systems, for reducing leaching. Relatively limited research has been conducted on improving potting medium substrates to minimize nutrient leaching. The objectives of this study were to determine the adsorption isotherm of six different zeolites to ammonium, nitrate and phosphorus, identify and incorporate desired zeolites in a peat/bark-based medium for reducing nutrient leaching in ornamental plant production. Results indicated that the zeolites possess great holding capacities for ammonium, nitrate, and phosphorus. Compared to control, ammonium leaching was reduced 70% to 90%, phosphorus 30% to 80% and nitrate 0% to 60% depending on zeolite species and quantity used per pot. Zeolite amended media caused no adverse effects on plant growth. Conversely, biomass increased significantly when compared to that of the control.
Charles F. Mancino and Joseph Troll
Combining frequent N applications and irrigations for turfgrasses grown in sandy soils is a common occurrence on golf course putting greens. A greenhouse study was conducted to determine leaching losses of nitrate and ammonium nitrogen from `Penncross' creeping bentgrass (Agrostis palustris L.) growing on an 80 sand:20 peat soil mixture following frequent, moderately heavy irrigations and light or moderate N fertilizer applications. Nitrogen sources included calcium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, urea, urea formaldehyde and isobutylediene diurea. Application levels were 9.76 kg N/ha per 7 days and 19.52 kg N/ha per 14 days for 10 weeks. Irrigation equivalent to 38 mm·week-1 was applied in three equal applications. Overall, 46% of the applied water leached. Total leaching losses were <0.5% of the applied N. Nitrate represented the major portion of the leached N, with ammonium losses being negligible. There were no differences between sources when applied at these levels. In a second study, a single 48.8 kg N/ha application resulted in higher leaching losses of N, but only calcium nitrate and ammonium nitrate had total losses > 2% (2.80% and 4.13%, respectively, over an n-day period). Nitrate concentrations were found to exceed 45 mg·liter-1 for ammonium nitrate.
Hudson Minshew, John Selker, Delbert Hemphill, and Richard P. Dick
Predicting leaching of residual soil nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) in wet climates is important for reducing risks of groundwater contamination and conserving soil N. The goal of this research was to determine the potential to use easily measurable or readily available soilclimatic-plant data that could be put into simple computer models and used to predict NO3 leaching under various management systems. Two computer programs were compared for their potential to predict monthly NO3-N leaching losses in western Oregon vegetable systems with or without cover crops. The models were a statistical multiple linear regression (MLR) model and the commercially available Nitrate Leaching and Economical Analysis Package model (NLEAP 1.13). The best MLR model found using stepwise regression to predict annual leachate NO3-N had four independent variables (log transformed fall soil NO3-N, leachate volume, summer crop N uptake, and N fertilizer rate) (P < 0.001, R 2 = 0.57). Comparisons were made between NLEAP and field data for mass of NO3-N leached between the months of September and May from 1992 to 1997. Predictions with NLEAP showed greater correlation to observed data during high-rainfall years compared to dry or averagerainfall years. The model was found to be sensitive to yield estimates, but vegetation management choices were limiting for vegetable crops and for systems that included a cover crop.
Janet C. Cole and John M. Dole
A 3 pine bark: 1 peatmoss: 1 sand (by volume) medium was amended with 7.7 g P as superphosphate, triple superphosphate, ammonium phosphate, or controlled-release ammonium phosphate per 1000 g medium (3.8 liters). The medium was then leached with 250, 350, or 450 ml distilled, deionized water daily for 25 days. Phosphorus leaching curves were then generated for each fertilizer. A subsequent study determined the effect of these four P fertilizers on growth of marigold seedlings in the greenhouse. Superphosphate, triple superphosphate, and ammonium phosphate rapidly leached from the medium, while the controlled-release ammonium phosphate was retained for a longer time. Marigold growth was not affected by fertilizer type; however, marigolds grown in P-amended media were larger than those grown without P. These studies indicate that amending container growing medium with superphosphate or triple superphosphate prior to planting may not be cost-effective.
Richard F. Smith, Louise E. Jackson, and Tiffany A. Bensen
Lettuce growers in the Salinas Valley are often not able to rotate to other crops due to economic pressure, such as high land rent. Winter-grown cover crops (October to March) provide a short-term rotation from lettuce and have been shown to reduce nitrate leaching by 75%. However, the use of winter-grown cover crops is low due to the extended time these cover crops tie up the ground. As a result, growers are interested in the potential of fall-grown cover crops (September to October) to reduce nitrate leaching through the winter. Fall-grown cover crops are incorporated into the soil prior to the onset of winter rains and leave the soil bare over the winter; however, during fall growth, the cover crop has the potential to capture excess nitrate that may leach during the fallow period, but how much has not been previously measured. A long-term trial was established in Fall 2003 using treatments of Indian mustard (B. juncea) `ISCI 61', White mustard (S. alba) `Ida Gold', Cereal rye (Secale cereale) `Merced', and a no cover crop control. All cover crops contained ≈224 kg·ha-1 N upon incorporation. Anion resin bags were installed 90 cm deep in the soil following incorporation to trap leaching nitrate; they were left in place until planting of the lettuce the following spring. First-year results indicated that the mustard cover crops and `Merced' rye all reduced nitrate leaching to the 90-cm depth by 67% to 82% over the bare fallow treatment. These results indicate that fall-grown cover crops have the potential to reduce nitrate leaching in lettuce production systems in the Salinas Valley.
Raul I. Cabrera
Seven nursery grade (8-9 month duration), polymer-coated, controlled-release fertilizers (CRF) were topdressed or incorporated into a 2 peat: 1 vermiculite: 1 sand (by volume) medium to yield the same amount of N per container. The pots (0.5 L) were uniformly irrigated with DI water every week to produce a target leaching fraction of 25%. Leachate N contents (ammonium plus nitrate), employed as indicators of N release, allowed for comparison of CRF performance as a function of temperature changes over a season. Two distinct N leaching (i.e., release) patterns were observed over the 180-day experimental period. The fertilizers Osmocote 18-6-12FS (Fast Start: OSM-FS), Prokote Plus 20-3-10 (PROK), Osmocote 24-4-8HN (High N: OSM-HN) and Polyon 25-4-12 (POLY) exhibited a N leaching pattern that closely followed changes in average daily ambient temperatures (Tavg) over the season. This relationship was curvilinear, with N leaching rates per pot (NLR) being highly responsive to Tavg changes between 20 and 25 °C. Temperatures above 25 °C produced an average maximum NLR of 1.27 mg·d-1 for these fertilizers. OSM-FS, PROK, and OSM-HN had the highest cumulative N losses over the experimental period. In contrast, the CRF group formed by Nutricote 18-6-8 (270: NUTR), Woodace 20-4-12 (WDC), and Osmocote 18-6-12 (OSM) showed a more stable N leaching pattern over a wider range of temperatures, with rates about 30% to 40% lower than those in the temperature-responsive CRF, and averaging a maximum NLR of 0.79 mg·d-1 for Tavg >25 °C. NUTR and WDC had the lowest cumulative N losses over the season. Soluble salt readings paralleled N leaching for each CRF, indicating similar leaching patterns for other nutrients. Incorporation produced significantly higher cumulative N losses than topdressing, but without effect on the actual N leaching pattern over the season. Regardless of the N formulation in the CRF, over 85% of the N recovered in the leachates was in the nitrate form.
Y.C. Li, P.J. Stoffella, A.K. Alva, D.V. Calvert, and D.A. Graetz
Compost amendment to agricultural soils has been shown to either reduce disease incidence, conserve soil moisture, control weeds or improve soil fertility. Application of compost can range from 5 to 250 Mt·ha–1 (N content up to 4%). Large application of compost with high N and P levels may result in excessive leaching of nitrate, ammonium, and phosphate into groundwater. It could be a serious concern on the east coast of Florida with its high annual rainfall and shallow water table. In this study, five composts (sugarcane filtercake, biosolids, and mixtures of municipal solid wastes and biosolids) were collected from different facilities throughout Florida. Composts were applied on a surface of 15-cm sandy soil columns at the rate of 100 Mt·ha–1 on the surface basis and leached with deionized water by 300 ml·d–1 for 5 days (equivalent to 34 cm rainfall). The concentrations of NO3-N, NH4-N, and PO4-P in leachates reached as high as 246, 29, and 142 mg·L–1, respectively. The amount of N and P leached following 5-day leaching events accounted for 3.3% to 15.8% of total N and 0.2% to 2.8% of total P as inorganic forms.