Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 212, Issue 1–4, pp 65–76 | Cite as

N-Application Methods and Precipitation Pattern Effects on Subsurface Drainage Nitrate Losses and Crop Yields

  • Allah Bakhsh
  • Ramesh S. KanwarEmail author
  • J. L. Baker


Diverting the infiltrating water away from the zone of N application can reduce nitrate–nitrogen (NO3–N) leaching losses to groundwater from agricultural fields. This study was conducted from 2001 through 2005 to determine the effects of N-application methods using a localized compaction and doming (LCD) applicator and spoke injector on NO3–N leaching losses to subsurface drainage water and corn (Zea mays L.)–soybean (Glycine max L.) yields. The field experiments were conducted at the Iowa State University’s northeastern research center near Nashua, Iowa, on corn–soybean rotation plots under chisel plow system having subsurface drainage ‘tile’ system installed in 1979. The soils at the site are glacial till derived soils. The N-application rates of 168 kg-N ha−1 were applied to corn only for both the treatments each replicated three times in a randomized complete block design. For combined 5 years, the LCD N-applicator in comparison with spoke injector showed lower flow weighted NO3–N concentrations in tile water (16.8 vs. 20.1 mg L−1) from corn plots, greater tile flow (66 vs. 49 mm), almost equivalent NO3–N leaching loss with tile water (11.5 vs. 11.3 kg-N ha−1) and similar corn grain yields (11.17 vs. 11.37 Mg ha−1), respectively, although treatments effects were found to be non-significant (p = 0.05) statistically. The analysis, however, revealed that amount and temporal distribution of the growing season precipitation also affected the tile flow, NO3–N leaching loss to subsurface drain water, and corn–soybean yields. Moreover, the spatial variability effects from plot to plot in some cases, resulted in differences of tile flow and NO3–N leaching losses in the range of three to four times despite being treated with the same management practices. These results indicate that the LCD N-applicator in comparison with spoke injector resulted in lower flow weighted NO3–N concentrations in subsurface drain water of corn plots; however, strategies need to be developed to reduce the offsite transport of nitrate leaching losses during early spring period from March through June.


LCD N-applicator Spoke injector Subsurface drainage Water quality 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allah Bakhsh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ramesh S. Kanwar
    • 2
    Email author
  • J. L. Baker
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Irrigation and DrainageUniversity of AgricultureFaisalabadPakistan
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural and Biosystems EngineeringIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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