Nitrate leaching from grassland receiving conventional and model-prescribed patterns of N fertilizer

C2 - Non-edited contributions to conferences

Preedy, N., Brown, L., Jewkes, E. C. and Scholefield, D. 1997. Nitrate leaching from grassland receiving conventional and model-prescribed patterns of N fertilizer. British Grassland Society (BGS) Fifth Research Conference, Seale Hayne Faculty of Agriculture Food & Land Use, University of Plymouth, Newton Abbot, Devon, 8-10 September 1997. Wiley.

AuthorsPreedy, N., Brown, L., Jewkes, E. C. and Scholefield, D.
TypeC2 - Non-edited contributions to conferences

Drained and undrained grassland lysimeter plots were established in 1982 on a clay loam of the Hallsworth series at a long-term experimental site in south-west England. The plots were continuously grazed by beef cattle, and received fertilizer at either 200 or 400 kg N ha-1 per annum to the existing permanent sward, or at 400 kg N ha-1 to a new sward, reseeded to perennial ryegrass following cultivation. Drainage water was monitored at V-notch weirs and sampled daily for the analysis of nitrate-N. Seven years of data are presented (five years for the reseeded swards). On the drained plots a large proportion of the rainfall was routed preferentially down large pores to the mole drains, whilst on the undrained plots, drainage was mainly by surface runoff. The average quantities of nitrate N leached per year were 38.5, 133.8 and 55.7 kg ha-1 from the old sward that received 200 and 400 kg N ha-1, and from the reseed that received 400 kg N ha-1 fertilizer, respectively. Ploughing and reseeding resulted in a two-fold reduction in leaching, except during the first winter after ploughing, and twice as much leaching occurred after a hot, dry summer as after a cool, wet one. Nitrate concentrations in drainage from either drained or undrained plots were rather insensitive to rainfall intensity, such that concentration was a good predictor of nitrate load for a given drainage volume. The drainage volume determined the proportion of the leachable N that remained in the soil after the winter drainage period. Initial (peak) concentrations of nitrate N ranged, on average, from 55 mg dm-3 for the drained old sward that received 400 kg N ha-1 fertilizer, to 12 mg dm-3 for the undrained sward at 200 kg N ha-1 fertilizer input. Concentrations of nitrate N in drainage from similar, unfertilized plots rarely exceeded 1 mg dm-3. The results suggest that manipulating the nitrate supply can lessen leaching and that the route of water through soil to the watercourse determines the maximum nitrate concentration for a given load.

KeywordsSoil Science
Year of Publication1997
Journal citation(4), pp. 87-88
Funder project or code1
Project: 2430 3107

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