In northwestern Germany slurry injection below maize (Zea mays L.) seeds is gaining increasing interest of farmers, because of the expected enhanced nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) use efficiencies compared to the usual fertilizing practice. The present study aims to compare the spatial and temporal soil mineral nitrogen (SMN) dynamics for these fertilizing strategies. Field trials with four treatments (unfertilized control, broadcast application + N P mineral starter fertilizer (+MSF), injection and injection + nitrification inhibitor (NI)) were conducted using pig slurry on sandy soil in 2014 and 2015. Soil samples were taken from three soil layers at 30 cm intervals down to 90 cm, and at three positions (below the maize row, 15 and 30 cm distance to the row) at several dates over the growing season. Soil monoliths (15 × 15 × 10 cm) were sampled around the injection zone, and for all other soil zones an auger was used. In 2014 due to heavy rainfall all fertilized N was displaced from the top soil layer of the broadcast treatment until 6-leaf stage, while N displacement was significantly smaller after slurry injection (about 20 kg SMN ha−1 more in top layer). The lateral movement of injected slurry N was negligible. In 2015 almost no displacement of fertilized N out of the top soil layer occurred independently of treatments, because of lower rainfall. The release of slurry N was delayed following broadcast application and large SMN concentrations were detected in the injection zones until 10-leaf stage. The addition of a NI resulted in significantly increased ammonium N concentrations in the injection zone throughout the early growth stages [+46 % (2014) and +12 % (2015) at 6-leaf stage]. Thus, N displacement was delayed in 2014 and in 2015 at 6-leaf stage increased SMN concentrations (+1/3 with NI) were found around the slurry band. Due to slurry injection, especially when combined with a nitrification inhibitor, the applied nitrogen is located in a soil zone with better spatial availability for plant roots compared to broadcast application and the risk of nitrate leaching is significantly reduced.
Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2016
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