Fertilizer management practices that focus on applying N fertilizer at the right rate and time have been proposed as a practical option to reduce NO3–N losses from subsurface drained agricultural fields. In this study, regression equations were developed to predict NO3–N losses for a corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] rotation in southern Minnesota, using fertilizer application timing and rate and growing season precipitation as inputs. The equations were developed using the results of the field-scale hydrologic and N simulation model DRAINMOD-NII, first calibrated and validated for three sites in southern Minnesota, and then run with different combinations of N fertilizer application rates and timings. Fertilizer timing treatments included a single application in the fall or spring and a split-spring application (half applied preplant and the remaining applied as sidedress). The predictive regression equations showed that the split fertilizer application timing could reduce regional N loads by 28% compared with spring or fall applications. Greater reductions were predicted when the split timing was combined with lower N fertilizer rates. Utilizing the split application timing and reducing the fertilizer rate by 10 and 30% showed 33 and 41% reductions in N loads, respectively, compared with current fertilizer management practices. Such reductions in fertilizer application rates could be achieved through the use of variable-rate nitrogen (VRN) fertilizer technologies. Results of this modeling study indicate that synchronizing fertilizer application with crop requirements and utilizing VRN technologies could significantly reduce N loads to surface waters in southern Minnesota.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding for this study provided by the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment Fund administered through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Additional data provided by G. Feyereisen and J. Strock.
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Environmental Quality © 2020 American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article