Denitrification and total N losses from an irrigated sandy-clay loam under maize–wheat cropping system
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Denitrification and total N losses were quantified from an irrigated field cropped to maize and wheat, each receiving urea at 100 kg N ha-1. During the maize growing season (60 days), the denitrification loss measured directly by acetylene inhibition-soil cover method amounted 2.72 kg N ha-1 whereas total N loss measured by 15N balance was 39 kg ha-1. Most (87%) of the denitrification loss under maize occurred during the first two irrigation cycles. During the wheat growing season (150 days), the denitrification loss directly measured by acetylene inhibition-soil cover and acetylene inhibition-soil core methods was 1.14 and 3.39 kg N ha-1, respectively in contrast to 33 kg N ha-1 loss measured by 15N balance. Most (70-88%) of the denitrification loss under wheat occurred during the first three irrigation cycles. Soil moisture and NO3--N were the major factors limiting denitrification under both crops. Higher N losses measured by 15N balance than C2H2 inhibition method were perhaps due to underestimation of denitrification by C2H2 inhibition method and losses other than denitrification, most probably NH3 volatilization.
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