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Nitrogen leaching and plant uptake from controlled-release fertilizers

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Controlled-release N fertilizers are commonly used in the production of container-grown ornamental crops, yet the relative effects of various nutrient sources on N leaching are not well known. A 27-week experiment was conducted to evaluate N leaching loss and plant growth following two applications of six controlled-release N fertilizers and one soluble N fertilizer to container-grownEuonymus patens Rehd. The controlled-release fertilizers evaluated were (noncoated) isobutylidene diurea, oxamide, urea formaldehyde, and (coated) Osmocote, Prokote Plus, and sulfur-coated urea. Of the fertilizers tested, the coated fertilizers generally out-performed the noncoated fertilizers in reducing N leaching losses, stimulating plant growth, and increasing tissue N concentrations. Low N concentrations in the leachate of some treatments indicated efficient nutrient use by the plant. In other treatments, low N concentrations in the leachate merely reflected incomplete N release from the fertilizer. A daily application of NH4NO3 resulted in a constant rate of N loss but was not the most effective in promoting growth. Plant growth, tissue N concentrations, and N leaching losses were all increased by doubling the fertilizer application rate from 1 kg N m−3 to 2 kg N m−3.

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Mikkelsen, R.L., Williams, H.M. & Behel, A.D. Nitrogen leaching and plant uptake from controlled-release fertilizers. Fertilizer Research 37, 43–50 (1994).

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