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Enhanced-efficiency fertilizer effects on cotton yield and quality in the Coastal Plains

Watts, Dexter B., Runion, G. Brett, Smith Nannenga, Katy W., Torbert, H. Allen
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 N 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 production in Southeastern US 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, ammonia sulfate, urea-ammonia sulfate, controlled-release, polymer-coated urea (ESN), stabilized urea (SuperU), poultry litter, poultry litter + AgrotainPlus, and an unfertilized control. Generally, no significant differences in 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 yields similar to conventional fertilizers, suggesting their higher cost may render them impractical at present. However, if EENFs reduce N loss through leaching, runoff and N(2)O 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 production systems.