) drinking water standard for nitrate-N of 10 mg·L −1 . The high N requirement of cool-season vegetables produced in the coastal valleys of California results in a high nitrate leaching hazard. The mild year-round climate allows for the cultivation of two to
Aaron Heinrich, Richard Smith, and Michael Cahn
Subhrajit K. Saha, Laurie E. Trenholm, and J. Bryan Unruh
thatch, shoot and root weight in response to fertilizer treatments. z Nitrate leaching by concentration (mg·L −1 ). Averaged across fertilizer treatments, more NO 3 − leached from ornamentals than from turfgrass at 15 and 60 d after
S.M. Scheiber, R.C. Beeson Jr, J. Chen, Q. Wang, and B. Pearson
Contamination of groundwater supplies with nitrates from agricultural endeavors has been a concern for decades. Booming residential and commercial development has turned attention to nitrate leaching from commercial and residential lawns
John W. Pote, Chhandak Basu, Zhongchun Jiang, and W. Michael Sullivan
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.
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.
Donald J. Merhaut and Julie P. Newman
Lilies are produced throughout the year in coastal areas of California.
Cultural practices involve daily applications of water and fertilizer, using both controlled release fertilizers (CRF) and liquid fertilizers (LF). However, many production facilities are in proximity to coastal wetlands and are therefore at greater risk of causing nitrogen pollution via runoff and leaching. Due to federal and state regulations, nurseries must present a plan of best management practices (BMPs) to mitigate nutrient runoff and leaching and begin implementing these practices in the next 2 years. In the following studies, we determined the potential for nitrate leaching from four different types of substrates (coir, coir: peat, peat, and native soil). There were four replications of each treatment, with a replication consisting of one crate planted with 25 bulbs. Two cultivars were used in two separate experiments, `Star Fighter' and `Casa Blanca'. Nitrate leaching was determined by placing an ion-exchange resin bag under each crate at the beginning of the study. After plant harvest (14–16 weeks), resin bags were collected and analyzed for nitrate content. Plant tissues were dried and ground and analyzed for nitrogen content. Based on the results of these studies, it appears that the use of coir, peat, and soil may not influence plant growth significantly. Substrate type may mitigate the amount of nitrate leaching through the media. However, the cultivar type may also influence the degree of nitrate mitigation, since leaching results varied between the two cultivars.
Blaine R. Hanson, Jan Hopmans, and Jirka Simunek
Injection during the middle one-third or the middle one-half of the irrigation is recommended for fertigation using microirrigation. However, short fertigation events are commonly used by growers. This project investigated the effect of fertigation practices on nitrate availability and leaching. The first phase of the project (completed) determined nitrate distributions in the root zone for four microirrigation systems, three soil types, and five fertigation strategies using the HYDRUS-2D computer simulation model. Fertigation strategies included injecting for short time periods at the beginning, middle, and end of the irrigation cycle, respectively; injecting during the middle 50% of the irrigation cycle, and continuous injection. The second phase (ongoing) is investigating the distribution of nitrate, ammonium, urea, phosphate, and potassium around the drip line for selected Phase 1 scenarios. Phase 1 results showed less nitrate leached from the root zone for a 2-h injection time at the end of a long irrigation event compared to injection at the beginning and middle of a long irrigation event for surface drip irrigation. A more continuous fertigation resulted in a more uniform distribution of nitrate in the soil. The results were less conclusive for subsurface drip lines, due to upward movement of nitrate above the drip line. Little difference in nitrate leaching occurred for short irrigation events, regardless of fertigation strategy. Data analysis of the Phase 2 modeling is under way. The HYDRUS-2D model included partition coefficients for ammonium, phosphate, and potassium, and parameters for hydrolysis (conversion of urea to ammonium), nitrification, and denitrification.
K.M Whitley and J.R Davenport
Potato (Solanum tuberosum) production in Washington State's Central Columbia Plateau faces nitrogen (N) management challenges due to the combination of coarse textured soils (sandy loam to loam) and hilly topography in this region as well as the high N requirement of potato. Potato growth and development can vary with the N availability across the field. In this 2-year study, two adjacent potato fields were selected each year (1999 and 2000). Each field was soil sampled on a 200 × 200 ft (61.0 m) grid to establish existing soil N content. One field was preplant fertilized with variable N rate while the other was conventionally preplant fertilized, applying a uniform rate across the field based on the field average. During the growing season, each field was monitored for nitrate leaching potential using ion exchange membrane technology. Soil and plant nutrient status were also monitored by collecting in-season petiole and soil samples at two key phenological stages, tuber initiation and tuber bulking. Overall this research showed that variable rate preplant N fertilizer management reduced N leaching potential during the early part of the growing season, but did not persist the entire season. Since preplant N accounted for only 40% of the total seasonal N applied, it is possible that further gains could be made with variable rate in-season N application or with variable rate water application.
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.
Lincoln Zotarelli, Johannes Scholberg, Michael Dukes, Hannah Snyder, Eric Simonne, and Michael Munoz-Carpena
On sandy soils, potential N contamination of groundwater resources associated with intensively managed vegetables may hamper the sustainability of these systems. The objective of this study was to evaluate the interaction between irrigation system design/scheduling and N fertilization rates on zucchini production and potential N leaching. Zucchini was planted during Fall 2005 using three N fertilizer rates (73, 145, 217 kg/ha) and four different irrigation approaches. Irrigation scheduling included surface-applied drip irrigation and fertigation: SUR1 (141 mm applied) and SUR2 (266 mm) using irrigation control system (QIC) that allowed time-based irrigation (up to five events per day) and a threshold setting of 13% and 15% volumetric water content (VWC), respectively; Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) using a QIC setting of 10% VWC (116 mm) combined with surface applied fertigation; and a control treatment with irrigation applied once daily (424 mm). Leacheate volumes were measured by drainage lysimeters. Nitrate leaching increased with irrigation rate and N rate and measured values ranged from 4 to 42 kg N/ha. Use of SDI greatly reduced nitrate leaching compared to other treatments. SDI and SUR1 treatments had no effect on yields (29 Mg/ha). However, SDI had a 15% and 479% higher water use efficiency (WUE) compared to SUR1 and the fixed irrigation duration treatment. Application of N in excess of intermediate N-rate (standard recommendation) did not increase yield but yield was reduced at the lowest N-rate. It is concluded that combining sensor-based SDI with surface applied fertigation resulted similar or higher yields while it reduced both water use and potential N leaching because of improved nutrient retention in the active root zone.