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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOP AND IMPROVE STRATEGIES FOR MANAGEMENT OF IRRIGATED AGRICULTURAL CROPS AND SOILS

Location: Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research

Title: Effect of nitrogen application timing on corn production using subsurface drip irrigation

Authors
item Tarkalson, David
item Van Donk, S -
item Petersen, J -

Submitted to: Soil Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 19, 2008
Publication Date: March 1, 2009
Citation: Tarkalson, D.D., Van Donk, S.J., Petersen, J.L. 2009. Effect of nitrogen application timing on corn production using subsurface drip irrigation. Soil Science. 174(3):174-179.

Interpretive Summary: The utilization of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) in row-crop agriculture is increasing due to potential increases in water and nutrient use efficiency. Research-based information is needed to manage nitrogen applications through subsurface drip irrigation systems in field corn production. This study was conducted to assess the effect of different in-season subsurface drip irrigation system N application timings at two application rates on corn production and residual soil nitrate nitrogen in the central Great Plains. During one year of the study grain yield was increased at the recommended N rate compared to the recommended minus 20%. The average grain yield for this study was close to the predicted yields indicating corn production under SDI is satisfactory. Grain yield and biomass production for the N application timing treatments were not significantly different. The application of 13% of the total N at as late as milk stage did not result in decreased yields. The lack of response to different N application timing treatments indicates there is flexibility in N application timing for corn production under SDI. There was no indication of differences in nitrate leaching between treatments.

Technical Abstract: The utilization of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) in row-crop agriculture is increasing due to potential increases in water and nutrient use efficiency. Research-based information is needed to manage nitrogen (N) applications through SDI systems in field corn (Zea mays L.) production. This study was conducted to assess the effect of different in-season SDI system N application timings on corn production and residual soil NO3-N at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, NE, on a Cozad silt loam (fine-silty, mixed, mesic Fluventic Haplustoll). We evaluated the effect of three N application timing methods (varying percentages of the total N rate [48% of total N] applied at the V10, VT, and R3 growth stages in addition to uniform N applications [52% of total N] over all treatments at pre-plant, planting, and V14 growth stage) at two N application rates (University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) recommended rate and the UNL rate minus 20%) on corn grain and biomass yield and end-of-study distribution of residual soil NO3-N. In 2006 there were no significant differences in corn grain yields between the two N application rates. In 2007, the grain yield under the UNL recommended N rate was significantly higher (190 kg/ha) than the UNL-20% N rate. The average grain yield for this study was close to the predicted yields (based on average five-year historic yields plus a 5% yield increase) indicating corn production under SDI is satisfactory. In 2006 and 2007, grain yield and biomass production for the N application timing treatments were not significantly different (P>0.05). The application of 13% of the total N at as late as R3 did not result in decreased yields. The lack of response to different N application timing treatments indicates there is flexibility in N application timing for corn production under SDI. The distribution of NO3-N in the 0-0.9 and 0.9-1.8 m soil profiles was not significantly different among all the treatments.

Last Modified: 7/27/2014
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