, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 310-317

Winter cover cropping influence on nitrogen mineralization, presidedress soil nitrate test, and corn yields

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Abstract

The mineralization and availability of cover crop N to the succeeding crop are critical components in the management of soil N to reduce N leaching. The effects of several leguminous and non-leguminous cover crops on soil N availability, N mineralization potential, and corn (Zea mays L.) yield were examined. The cover crops had variable effects on soil N availability and corn yield and N uptake. Because of the rapid mineralization of the cover crops following incorporation, the inorganic N levels in the soil sampled in mid-May 1992 (4 weeks after incorporation of cover crops), rather than the potentially mineralizable N, rate constants, initial potential mineralization rate, or cumulative N mineralized over 14 weeks, correlated well with N concentrations, C:N ratios, or the N added in the cover crops. However, the inclusion of potentially mineralizable N with inorganic N in a multiple regression improved the variability in the corn yield and the N uptake accounted for. Since extensive mineralization had occurred before the 21 May sampling, the potentially mineralizable N was affected more by the soil organic N and C than by the N concentrations of the cover crops. The presidedress NO3 --N test levels were well predicted by the inorganic and potentially mineralizable N (R 2=0.89, P<0.01), although the test levels were better in predicting corn yield and N uptake. If the available soil N test needs to be made earlier than recommended by the presidedress NO3 --N test, both inorganic and potentially mineralizable N are needed to better predict the corn yield and N uptake in the soils.