Nitrate leaching and nitrogen recovery following application of polyolefin-coated urea to potato

Francis Zvomuya, Carl J. Rosen, Michael P. Russelle, Satish C. Gupta

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167 Scopus citations


High N fertilizer and irrigation amounts applied to potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) on coarse-textured soils often result in nitrate (NO3) leaching and low recovery of applied fertilizer N. This 3-yr study compared the effects of two rates (140 and 280 kg N ha-1) of a single polyolefin-coated urea (PCU) application versus split applications of urea on 'Russet Burbank' potato yield and on NO3 leaching and N recovery efficiency (RE) on a loamy sand. Standard irrigation was applied in all years and excessive irrigation was used in another experiment in the third year. At the recommended rate of 280 kg N ha-1, NO3 leaching during the growing season was 34 to 49% lower with PCU than three applications of urea. Under standard irrigation in the third year, leaching from five applications of urea (280 kg N ha-1) was 38% higher than PCU. Under leaching conditions in the first year (≥-25 mm drainage water in at least one 24-h period) and excessive irrigation in the third year, PCU at 280 kg N ha-1 improved total and marketable tuber yields by 12 to 19% compared with three applications of urea. Fertilizer N RE estimated by the difference and 15N isotope methods at the 280 kg N ha-1 rate was, on average, higher with PCU (mean 50%) than urea (mean 43%). Fertilizer N RE values estimated by the isotope method (mean 51%) were greater than those estimated by the difference method (mean 47%). Results from this study indicate that PCU can reduce leaching and improve N recovery and tuber yield during seasons with high leaching.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-489
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003


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