Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 209–218

Effect of split applications of cattle slurry and mineral fertilizer–N on the yield of silage maize in a slurry-based cropping system

  • J.J. Schröder


The recovery of soil mineral nitrogen (N) by crops, and its subsequent utilisation for dry matter (DM) production may be increased when the application of N is postponed until after crop emergence. The significance of this strategy for silage maize was studied in nine field experiments on Dutch sandy soils from 1983 to 1988. In five experiments the effect of slurry applied before planting at a rate of circa 66 m3 ha-1, was compared to the effect of a similar rate of which half was applied before planting and half at the 4–6 leaf stage. In the 4-6 leaf stage slurry was either injected or banded. In four other experiments the effect of mineral fertilizer-N splitting was studied. In these experiments, 30 m3 ha-1 cattle slurry, applied before planting, was supplemented with mineral fertilizer-N at rates ranging from 40 to 160 kg ha-1, either fully applied before crop emergence or split. When split, 40 kg ha-1 of the mineral fertilizer-N rate was banded at the 4–6 leaf stage. According to balance sheet calculations, substantial losses of slurry N and mineral fertilizer-N occurred during the growing season. Losses were compensated for, however, by apparent mineralization, ranging from 0.34 to 0.77 kg N ha-1 day-1. Split applications of cattle slurry had a significant positive effect on the DM yield in two out of five experiments compared to the conventional non-split application, but only when the post-emergence slurry application was banded which is no longer in accordance with present legislation. Split applications of mineral fertilizer-N had a significant positive effect in one experiment where rainfall was excessive but not in the others. The results provide insufficient evidence to recommend farmers to split applications. Soil mineral N sampling at the 4–6 leaf stage should hence be considered a control on the appropriateness of early N applications after exceptional weather conditions rather than a routine observation on which the post-emergence N dressing is to be based in a deliberate splitting strategy. Our data suggest that the financial return of a 40 kg ha-1 supplementation with mineral fertilizer-N, was questionable when more than 175 kg N ha-1 were found in the upper 0.6 m soil layer at the 4–6 leaf stage.

cattle slurry fertilizer splitting nitrogen recovery residual nitrogen Zea mays L 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • J.J. Schröder
    • 1
  1. 1.DLO-Research Institute for Agrobiology and Soil Fertility, AB-DLOWageningenthe Netherlands

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