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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Voorhees, Ward
item Staricka James A
item Reicosky, Donald
item Olness, Alan

Submitted to: Clean Water Clean Environment 21st Century Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/8/1995
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In the western Corn Belt, over 20% of the N fertilizer is applied in the fall, with southwestern Minnesota reported to be as high as 80%. Economics and timeliness factors are often cited as the dominant reasons. However, in these temperate climates, soil-applied nitrogen is also exposed to soil freezing. The effect of freezing on the fate of nitrogen, pesticides and water quality is not fully understood. Field studies were conducted on a clay loam soil in western Minnesota over three winters. Nitrogen (Urea) and Atrazine were surface broadcast in October of each year at the rates of 130 and 260 kg/ha, and 0 and 3.4 kg a.i./ha, respectively, and tillage incorporated. Soil was incrementally sampled to a depth of 1.5 m during the winter and analyzed for nitrogen and Atrazine concentration, and soil water content. Within the tilled layer, N moved upward from December to January, and downward from February until thaw, with a net downward movement of 0.12 2m. Thus, even though most of the fall-applied nitrogen remained within th rooting zone and potentially available for plant uptake, it was also vulnerable for leaching during spring thaw. Snowmelt and rain often collected in surface depressions while the subsoil was still frozen. Subsequent rapid disappearance caused a temporary rise in the water table along with decreased concentrations of ammonium- and nitrate-N due to dilution. Analysis to date indicate at least limited downward movement of Atrazine out of the tilled layer occurred during winter. Tillage and surface residue management can alter depth and duration of soil freezing. Thus, soil management practices are important with respect to controlling ground water quality even during the non-growing season.

Last Modified: 05/27/2017
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