Loss of ammonia after application of urea at different times to dry-seeded, irrigated rice
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Ammonia loss from urea applied to dry-seeded rice, determined using a micrometeorological technique, varied considerably depending on the time of application. Ammonia volatilization was negligible, before and after flooding, when urea was applied to the dry soil surface two days before permanent flood. Before flooding, the urea prills remained undissolved and urea hydrolysis could not proceed. Thus there was no source of fertilizerderived ammonia for volatilization to occur. Upon flooding, the urea prills were washed into cracks in the soil which subsequently closed. Therefore the movement of soluble nitrogen into the floodwater was prevented, and again there was no ammonia source for the volatilization process.
When urea was broadcast into the floodwater a few days after permanent flood, ammonia losses were high and varied from 11–21% of the nitrogen applied. These losses were associated with high floodwater pHs and high wind speeds near the water surface.
However, when urea was applied into the floodwater at panicle initiation, ammonia losses were low (3–8% of the applied nitrogen). At this stage of growth the plant canopy shaded the floodwater, inhibiting algal photosynthesis and consequent pH elevation, thus resulting in low ammonia gas concentrations at the floodwater surface. In addition, the plant canopy restricted air movement at the water surface, thereby reducing ammonia transport away from the air-water interface.
These findings provide basic information required for improving current fertilizer management practices.
Key wordsdirect-seeding nitrogen fertilizer micrometeorology gas exchange irrigation volatilization denitrification
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