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James E. Klett and Carl Wilson

Four woody plant species were grown during the 1988 and 1989 growing seasons under three irrigation treatments at two sites in two soil types. The three irrigation treatments which were implemented included: 1) control, 2) drip irrigated with no water stress, and 3) drip irrigated with water stress. Rainfall and additional water applied during the 1988 and '89 growing seasons were recorded. Analysis of this data showed the no stress treatment receiving more water at both sites, especially in 1989. After two years of growth, no statistical differences in new growth (height) were observed with any plant species evaluated at either site from the three water treatments. Comparing new growth, no statistical differences were observed except with Juniperus sabina. No visual differences were observed with Ribes alpinum and Cornus sericea. Visual differences were observed with Potentilla fruticosa and Juniperus sabina. The experiment will be continued during the 1990 growing season.

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Melissa L. Wilson, Carl J. Rosen, and John F. Moncrief

Although laboratory analyses of nitrogen (N) release from polymer-coated urea (PCU) are available for most brands of PCU, data are lacking for release patterns under field conditions. Release rate studies for PCU are often time-consuming and expensive as a result of the need for multiple chemical analyses. We compared the N release using a weight loss method with a direct chemical analysis method for two types of PCU (Agrium PCU, Agrium U.S. Inc.; Kingenta PCU, Shandong Kingenta Ecological Engineering Co., Ltd.). The PCU prills were placed in a mesh bag and N loss from the prills over time was determined indirectly by loss in weight. The N content of the prills was determined by the combustion method to verify the weight method technique. A second study was conducted to determine if the type of mesh bag material affects the percentage of N released. For this study, mesh bags were constructed from two different materials with two different hole sizes and total amount of open area. Overall, regression analysis suggested that the percentage of N released as estimated by the weight method and combustion method was not significantly different over the growing season for two types of PCU. The mesh bags made of the material with smaller holes and less open area resulted in significantly less N release than the material with more open area and larger holes. Overall, these results suggest that the weight method can be reliably used as a substitute for chemical analysis to determine N release characteristics of PCU, but mesh bag materials must be taken into consideration to reduce errors. The best technique to determine N release may be one that does not include a mesh bag; however, until that method is developed, using a larger hole size is recommended.

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Charlotte Mundy, Nancy G. Creamer, L. George Wilson, Carl R. Crozier, and Ronald D. Morse

Conservation tillage using residue from a cover crop grown before potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production has been infrequently and inconclusively studied. The objectives of this study were to 1) conduct a field study to evaluate soil physical properties, and potato growth and yield, in conventional-tillage (CT), no-tillage (NT), and subsurface-tillage (SST) systems and 2) conduct a greenhouse study to evaluate the effect of soil bulk density (ρb) on potato growth and yield. Potatoes (`Atlantic') were planted into residue of sorghum-sudangrass [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench × S. sudanense (Piper) Staph] at two sites in eastern North Carolina—Plymouth into Portsmouth fine sandy loam and Lewiston into Norfolk sandy loam. Potatoes in the NT and SST system emerged more slowly than potatoesplanted conventionally. There were no differences in plant population or size by 8 weeks after planting at Plymouth, but plant population and size were less in NT and SST systems at Lewiston. Reducing tillage also affected soil compaction, increased soil moisture early in the season at both sites, and increased ρb at Lewiston. Yield of U.S. No. 1 potatoes planted in NT and SST systems were comparable to potatoes planted in a CT system at Plymouth, but were less than potatoes planted in a CT system at Lewiston. There were no differences in yield between potatoes planted with NT and SST. In the greenhouse study, ρb did not affect leaf area or tuber yield or tuber grade. Specific sites and soils may allow for comparable potato production with no or SST, but further research, conducted on different soil types would promote further understanding of the impacts of reducing tillage in potato production.