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Timothy K. Broschat

Spathiphyllum Schott. `Mauna Loa Supreme' and areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens H. Wendl.) were grown for 6 months in 3.5-liter containers using a pine bark–sedge peat–sand container medium or a native sand soil. Plants were fertilized with equivalent amounts of a 21N–3P–12K fertilizer applied weekly as a liquid, monthly as a soluble granular, bimonthly as a lightly coated controlled-release, or every 6 months as a heavily coated controlled-release fertilizer. All leachates were collected and analyzed weekly for NO3-N, PO4-P, and K. Amounts of all three nutrients leached per week varied considerably in response to fertilizer reapplications or high rainfall. Nitrate leaching generally decreased over time, PO4-P leaching increased, and K remained relatively constant. Shoot dry weights of spathiphyllum were equivalent for all fertilization methods, but areca palm shoot dry weights were highest with liquid fertilization and lowest with the soluble granular fertilizer. Nutrient leaching for all three ions was highest for the soluble granules and lowest for the two controlled-release formulations.

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Warren Roberts, Jim Duthie and Julia Whitworth

Large amounts of poultry litter are produced in eastern Oklahoma. Nitrate leaching from stockpiled litter can contaminate water supplies. Poultry producers need additional land for disposal of litter. Poultry litter can be a good fertilizer because it usually contains 2% to 3% N, P2O5, and K2O. The ratio of N: P: K is about 1:1:1. Soils in the area often need fertilizer with about a 1:1:2 ratio for cucumber production. This study was established to determine if poultry litter alone could be used to supply all of the nutrients needed for cucumber production, and if excess nutrients would be detrimental to crop growth. Treatments consisted of two rates of raw poultry litter, two rates of composted litter, and synthetic fertilizer applied in either a single or a split application. Treatments ranged from 112, 112, and 224 kg·ha–1. The greatest yield came from the highest rate of poultry litter. Composted litter did not yield more than raw litter. Splitting the application of synthetic fertilizer did not improve yields over that of a single application of the same material.

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B. Sanden, L. Wu, J.P. Mitchell, L. Pan and R. Strohman

This research tests the hypothesis that decreasing lateral spacing from 45 to 35 feet in solid-set sprinkler systems increases the uniformity of irrigation water distribution and improves water and N fertilizer use efficiencies. Three different spacings between sprinkler laterals (35', 40', and 45') were set up in three blocks in a 60-acre commercial carrot field in Western Kern County in California's San Joaquin Valley. Determinations of irrigation water distribution uniformity, yields, crop water use, plant growth, and nitrate leaching were made. Mean sprinkler distribution uniformities (DU) were found to be 80.6%, 78.1%, and 86% for the 35-, 40-, and 45-ft spacings, respectively. Total carrot yield and quality did not differ significantly among the three spacings, corroborating the finding that irrigation uniformities were similar among the treatments. Although the three lateral spacings evaluated in this initial experiment did not result in major differences in irrigation uniformity, total yields, or quality, the findings of this initial stage of our research are significant. They point to the need for new assessments of currently used protocols for evaluating sprinkler irrigation management of water and nitrogen fertilizer if they can be confirmed by repeated trials in coming years.

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J.E. Ells, A.E. McSay, P.N. Soltanpour, F.C. Schweissing, M.E. Bartolo and E.G. Kruse

Water and nitrogen (N) are major inputs in the production of onions in the Arkansas Valley of Colorado. Because nitrates move with irrigation water, the effect of different rates of application of both N fertilizer and water on nitrate leaching were studied simultaneously. After a 2-year field study (1990-1991), it was concluded that >50 t·ha-1 of onions could be obtained without any N fertilizer when >42 ppm of nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N) were initially present in the top 33 cm of soil and up to 112 cm of irrigation water was applied. Total onion yield was not improved by applying more than the calculated irrigation requirement. The 2-m profile of soil under these experiments was found to contain >1400 kg·ha-1 of residual NO3-N prior to fertilizer treatments. When twice the estimated irrigation requirement was applied, >1000 kg·ha-1 of NO3-N was unaccounted for and presumed to have been mostly leached below the 2-m profile and partly denitrified. In both years, the onions were planted on land that had been fallowed the previous season, which does not help explain the presence of the high levels of nitrates found in the soil profile. It was concluded that sound water and N management practices in onion fields are crucial for preservation of water quality.

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Mariateresa Cardarelli, Youssef Rouphael, Delia Muntean and Giuseppe Colla

The fertilizer nitrogen (N) inputs to some potted plants such as ornamental cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala D.C.) are frequently higher than the actual demand. Optimization of N fertilization rate and selecting N-efficient cultivars are important approaches to increase the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and to reduce environmental pollution from nitrate leaching. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of increasing levels of nitrate (0.5, 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mm of NO3 ) in the nutrient solution on plant growth, quality, soil plant analysis development (SPAD) index, chlorophyll fluorescence, leaf pigments, mineral composition, and NUE in five ornamental cabbage cultivars (Coral Prince, Coral Queen, Glamour Red, Northern Lights Red, and White Peacock), grown in closed subirrigation system. ‘Glamour Red’ and ‘Northern Lights Red’ needed 3.3 and 2.9 mm of NO3 in the supplied nutrient solution, respectively, to produce 50% of predicted maximum shoot dry weight (SDW), whereas the vigorous cultivars Coral Prince, Coral Queen, and White Peacock needed 5.5, 4.7, and 4.3 mm of NO3 , respectively. Total leaf area (LA), SDW, SPAD index, N, Ca, and Mg concentrations increased linearly and quadratically in response to an increase of the nitrate concentration in the nutrient solution. Irrespective of cultivars, fertilizing above 10 mm NO3 produced high-quality plants (quality index of 5) and resulted in sufficiently high tissue concentrations of N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and Fe.

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Zhongchun Jiang, Chenping Xu and Bingru Huang

Low nitrogen (N) rates are recommended for creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) putting greens to prevent excessive shoot growth and potential nitrate leaching, but low N rates could lead to N deficiency, which induces leaf senescence. This study was conducted to examine the effects of N deficiency on two enzymes involved in organic N metabolism as well as amino acid (AA) and soluble protein (SP) contents in both young and old leaves and roots of creeping bentgrass. Creeping bentgrass plants (cv. Penncross) were grown in a nutrient solution containing either 6 mm nitrate (+N plants) or zero N (−N plants), and each of the two treatments had four replicate pots. Young leaves on upper portions of the stolons and old leaves on lower portions of the stolons were separated and sampled at 14, 21, and 28 days of treatment, and roots were sampled at 28 days. Nitrogen deficiency increased glutamine synthetase (GS) transferase activity in all three tissues and at all three dates and GS biosynthetic activity in young leaves at all three dates. Prolonged N deficiency at 21 and 28 days increased glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) deamination and amination activities in old leaves. In the roots, N deficiency at 28 days increased GS transferase activity but decreased GDH deamination activity. The N deficiency decreased AA content in all three tissues and at all three dates and SP content in young leaves at all three dates and in old leaves at 21 and 28 days. Decreasing organic N reserves in AA and SP and increasing GS and GDH activities in senescing leaves may be adaptive responses to N deficiency.

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D.R. Earhart, V.A. Haby, M.L. Baker and A.T. Leonard

Primary environmental concerns regarding application of poultry litter (PL) for crop production are nitrate leaching into ground water and increased levels of P in the soil that can erode into surface water. This study was initiated to investigate use of warm- and cool-season annual forage crops to remove excess nutrients supplied by PL in rotational-cropping systems on a Bowie fine sandy loam (fine-loamy, siliceous, thermic, Plinthic Paleudults). PL was applied at one (1×) or two (2×) times the recommended rate in the spring, fall, or spring and fall. Rates were based on N requirement of the crop and percent N in the litter. Comparisons were made to fertilizer blends (FB) and control treatments with no PL or FB. After 3 years of treatments, NO3-N increased at the 122-cm depth by 30 and 50 mg·kg–1 from the 1× and 2× rate, respectively. The greatest accumulation was from FB (72 mg·kg–1). With PL applied in spring only, spring vegetables followed by a fall cover showed a significant reduction in NO3-N leaching and accumulation. Regardless of cropping system, rate, or time of application, P concentration increased by 40 mg·kg–1 in the surface 15 cm of soil when compared to FB. If applied in an environmentally sound manner, PL will be less of a threat to pollution of ground water than similar rates of FB. Applying PL rates sufficient to meet crop needs for N results in P accumulation that can lead to nonpoint source pollution of surface waters.

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B.R. Bondada, J.P. Syvertsen and L.G. Albrigo

Foliar-applied urea nitrogen (N) has potential to become an important component in fertilizer programs for citrus in Florida and other citrus growing areas as it can reduce nitrate leaching into ground water. We evaluated seasonal absorption characteristics of three urea formulations, Triazone-urea, liquid urea, and spray grade urea by citrus leaves that were from 2 weeks to 6 months old. The effect of leaf age on 15N absorption by N-deficient and N-sufficient leaves, together with urea absorption over an eight-week period were studied using greenhouse-grown and field-grown plants. All foliar N applications were based on a recommended rate of 34 kg N/ha in 469 L of water. In the field studies, leaf N was increased similarly by the three urea formulations one week after three weekly applications. Young leaves (0.25 month and 1 month old) absorbed a greater percentage of N than the older leaves (3 month and 6 month old). Epicuticular wax concentration increased and 15N absorption declined with leaf age. Nitrogen deficient leaves (1.80% N) had greater wax concentration and lower N absorption than N sufficient leaves (2.60% N). Four to 8 weeks after urea applications, Triazone-urea sprayed leaves had significantly greater leaf N concentration than leaves sprayed with liquid urea or nonsprayed control leaves. The greenhouse studies revealed that the 15N absorption was greater through abaxial leaf surfaces than through adaxial surfaces regardless of leaf N level and application time. Applying foliar 15N-urea during night (2000 hr to 2200 hr) resulted in greater absorption of 15N than in the morning (0800 hr to 1000 hr) or afternoon (1200 hr to 1400 hr). It is clear that maximum N absorption from foliar urea sprays occurred at night through the abaxial surfaces of young leaves with sufficient N. Triazone-urea acted as a slow-release N source that could be exploited in supplying N over an extended period of time.

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Moreno Toselli, James A. Flore and Bruno Marangoni

Low root-zone temperature is one of the potential causes of low rate of plant nutrient uptake in spring. In this period, fruit trees are frequently supplied with nitrogen and a delay in root absorption could lead to an increase of nitrate leaching. In this study we assessed the effect of low root temperature on kinetic of nitrogen absorption of apple trees. One-year-old rooted cuttings of `Mark' apple rootstocks were subjected to two root temperature: 8 ± 1°C (LT) and 23 ± 1°C (HT). Four days after treatment imposition, the potted plants were supplied with 20 mg of N as NH4N03, enriched with 10 atom% of 15N. One, 2, 4, and 8 days after fertilization, tree root system was inserted into a Sholander bomb where a 0.325-Mpa pressure was applied to collect the xylem sap from the stem cross section. The sap exudation rate was always depressed by low root temperature. Nitrogen flow through the xylem vessel was highest in HT plants the day after fertilization (10-fold higher than LT), then decreased constantly. In LT plants, N flow was low the first and the second day after fertilization then reached the maximum 4 days after fertilization, when it was significantly higher than in HT plants. The amount of fertilizer-N found in leaves reflected the different movement rate of N observed in the two treatments. In HT trees fertilizer-N reached a plateau 2 days after fertilization, while in LT it linearly increased over time. This results suggest that root zone temperature of 8°C, although causes a delay (2–4 days) in nitrogen uptake, does not represent a serious limiting factor for N nutrition of tested apple trees.

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S.M. Southwick, M.E. Rupert, J.T. Yeager, K.G. Weis, B.C. Kirkpatrick, E.L. Little and B.B. Westerdahl

Bacterial canker (BC), caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae van Hall, is a serious disease of stone fruits that occurs most commonly in young orchards. Many factors can predispose or increase the risk that trees develop BC such as sandy or compacted soils, low soil pH, inadequate tree nutrition, frost or cold injury, genetic susceptibility, and presence of ring nematode, Criconemella spp. However, questions still remain about how these factors influence disease incidence in `French' prune, Prunus domestica L. In 1991, we established a 3.64-ha plot in Winters, Calif., to determine the effects of nitrogen (N) fertigation on growth responses and yield of young prune trees. N was applied through a surface drip system at 0, 0.11, 0.23, and 0.45 kg actual N/tree per year as UN32 urea (Unocal, Sacramento Calif.) with 1/10th of the total amount delivered per application every other week from May through September starting in 1992. Two other treatments were also included: 0.064 kg N/tree per year through surface drip if % leaf N dropped below 2.3%, and 0.23 kg N/tree/year delivered in small amounts every irrigation via an automated buried drip system. Symptoms of BC began appearing primarily in the 0- and 0.064-N treatments in 1993. During 1995 and 1996, we demonstrated highly significant relationships between low N status measured in leaves and increased incidence of BC. Furthermore, we determined levels of N application via drip irrigation, which resulted in good yields, vigorous growth, and lack of BC in our test plots, but also minimized N use and potential for nitrate leaching into groundwater. These and additional results will be presented.