Effects of polymer-coated urea on nitrate leaching and nitrogen uptake by potato

Melissa L Wilson, Carl J Rosen, John F. Moncrief

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51 Scopus citations


Increasing groundwater nitrate concentrations in potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production regions have prompted the need to identify alternative nitrogen management practices. A new type of polymer-coated urea (PCU) called Environmentally Smart Nitrogen (Agrium, Inc., Calgary, AB) is significantly lower in cost than comparable PCUs, but its potential to reduce nitrate leaching and improve fertilizer recovery has not been extensively studied in potato. In 2006 and 2007, four rates of PCU applied at emergence were compared with equivalent rates of soluble N split-applied at emergence and post-hilling. Additional treatments included a 0 N control, two PCU timing treatments (applied at preplant or planting), and a soluble N fertigation simulation. Nitrate leaching, fertilizer N recovery, N use efficiency (NUE), and residual soil inorganic N were measured. Both 2006 and 2007 were low leaching years. Nitrate leaching with PCU (21.3 kg NO3-N ha-1 averaged over N rates) was significantly lower than with split-applied soluble N (26.9 kg NO3-N ha-1). The soluble N fertigation treatment resulted in similar leaching as PCU at equivalent N rates. Apparent fertilizer N recovery with PCU (65% averaged over four rates) tended to be higher than split-applied soluble N (55%) at equivalent rates (p = 0.059). Residual soil N and NUE were not significantly affected by N source. Under the conditions of this study, PCU significantly reduced leaching and tended to improved N recovery over soluble N applied in two applications and resulted in similar N recovery and nitrate leaching as soluble N applied in six applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)492-499
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010


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