Many factors influence nitrogen (N) mineralization in agricultural soils. Our objective was to quantify cumulative (season-long) net N mineralization in corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr] in a corn-soybean rotation under different N and soil drainage management (drained and undrained) in poorly-drained soils. In-situ incubations were conducted over two growing seasons using a sequential core-sampling technique to measure net N mineralization. Differential drainage was imposed three-years before this study, in which time, the soil lost 2.2 Mg C ha−1 year−1 and 0.14 Mg N ha−1 year−1 due to tile-drainage. Overall greater total soil organic carbon (TOC) and total soil nitrogen (TN) in the undrained soil resulted in 2.7 times greater net N mineralization compared to the drained soil in the unfertilized control (0N), but the effect of drainage was inconsistent across years with N fertilization. Across all variables, soils mineralized 2.89% of TN in soybean residue and 0.94% of TN in corn residue. Nitrogen fertilization increased mineralization rate, as high as 9.6 kg N ha−1 day−1, compared to <2.2 kg N ha−1 day−1 for 0N. Overall, net N mineralization was 3.4 times greater with N fertilizer than the 0N, but fertilization made mineralization more variable. The impact of fertilization on boosting mineralization under differential soil drainage needs further refinement if we are to improve decision-making tools for N application based on soil mineralization predictions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to express appreciation to the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council for their financial support, collaborating farmers to allow us to conduct this study in their farm, and the University of Minnesota field crew and the many students for their assistance with field and lab activities.
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
- In-field mineralization
- Nitrogen cycle
- Urea fertilizer