Jump to Main Content
Enhanced-Efficiency Fertilizer Effects on Cotton Yield and Quality in the Coastal Plains
- Dexter B. Watts, G. Brett Runion, Katy W. Smith Nannenga, H. Allen Torbert
- Agronomy journal 2014 v.106 no.2 pp. 745-752
- Gossypium hirsutum, Kanhapludults, ammonium sulfate, coastal plain soils, coastal plains, crop yield, fertilizer application, fiber quality, leaching, loamy sand soils, nitrogen, nitrous oxide, polymer-coated urea, poultry manure, runoff, upland soils, urea, urea ammonium sulfate, Alabama
- Interest in the use of enhanced-efficiency nitrogen fertilizer (EENFs) sources has increased in recent years due to the potential of these new EENF sources to increase crop yield, while at the same time decreasing N loss from agricultural fields. The efficacy of these fertilizer sources on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) production in southeastern U.S. upland soils has not been well documented. Thus, a field study was conducted on a Coastal Plain soil (Marvyn loamy sand; fine-loamy, kaolinitic, thermic Typic Kanhapludult) in Central Alabama from 2009 to 2011 to compare EENFs to traditional N sources in a high-residue conservation cotton production system. Nitrogen fertilizer sources evaluated included urea (U), ammonium sulfate (AS), urea-ammonium sulfate (UAS), Environmentally Smart Nitrogen (ESN) (Agrium Advanced Technologies, Loveland, CO), stabilized urea (SuperU [SU] [Agrotain International, St. Louis, MO]), poultry litter (PL), poultry litter + AgrotainPlus (PLA) (KOCH Agronomic Services LLC, Wichita, KS), and an unfertilized control (C). Generally, no significant differences in cotton lint yield were observed between the traditional sources and EENFs. Nitrogen source affected fiber quality; however, effects varied among years and generally would not have impacted discount/premium values. In the present study, EENFs produced cotton lint yields similar to conventional fertilizers, suggesting their higher cost may render them uncompetitive at present. However, if EENFs reduce N loss through leaching, runoff and N₂O flux from agricultural fields they could become viable alternative fertilizer sources. More research is needed on the benefits of enhanced-efficiency fertilizer use as a tool in agricultural production systems.