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Use of soil nitrogen parameters and texture for spatially-variable nitrogen fertilization
- Shahandeh, H., Wright, A. L., Hons, F. M.
- Precision agriculture 2011 v.12 no.1 pp. 146-163
- Zea mays, clay fraction, corn, fertilizer rates, grain yield, growing season, nitrate nitrogen, nitrogen, nitrogen fertilizers, soil heterogeneity, soil sampling, soil texture, soil types, texture, Texas
- Recent studies have demonstrated the potential importance of using soil texture to modify fertilizer N recommendations. The objective of this study was to determine (i) if surface clay content can be used as an auxiliary variable for estimating spatial variability of soil NO₃-N, and (ii) if this information is useful for variable rate N fertilization of non-irrigated corn [Zea mays (L.)] in south central Texas, USA across years. A 64 ha corn field with variable soil type and N fertility level was used for this study during 2004-2007. Plant and surface and sub-surface soil samples were collected at different grid points and analyzed for yield, soil N parameters and texture. A uniform rate (UR) of 120 kg N ha⁻¹ in 2004 and variable rates (VAR) of 0, 60, 120, and 180 kg N ha⁻¹ in 2005 through 2007 were applied to different sites in the field. Distinct yield variation was observed over this time period. Yield and soil surface clay content and soil N parameters were strongly spatially structured. Corn grain yield was positively related to residual NO₃-N with depth and either negatively or positively related to clay content depending on precipitation. Residual NO₃-N to 0.60 and 0.90 m depths was more related to corn yield than from shallower depths. The relationship of clay content with soil NO₃-N was weak and not temporally stable. Yield response to N rate also varied temporally. Supply of available N with depth, soil texture and growing season precipitation determined proper N management for this field.