Spatial and temporal variability of soil nitrogen (N) supply together with temporal variability of plant N demand make conventional N management difficult. This study was conducted to determine the impact of residual soil nitrate-N (NO3-N) on ground-based remote sensing management of in-season N fertilizer applications for commercial center-pivot irrigated corn (Zea mays L.) in northeast Colorado. Wedge-shaped areas were established to facilitate fertigation with the center pivot in two areas of the field that had significantly different amounts of residual soil NO3-N in the soil profile. One in-season fertigation (48 kg N ha−1) was required in the Bijou loamy sand soil with high residual NO3-N versus three in-season fertigations totaling 102 kg N ha−1 in the Valentine fine sand soil with low residual NO3-N. The farmer applied five fertigations to the field between the wedges for a total in-season N application of 214 kg N ha−1. Nitrogen input was reduced by 78% and 52%, respectively, in these two areas compared to the farmer’s traditional practice without any reductions in corn yield. The ground-based remote sensing management of in-season applied N increased N use efficiency and significantly reduced residual soil NO3-N (0–1.5 m depth) in the loamy sand soil area. Applying fertilizer N as needed by the crop and where needed in a field may reduce N inputs compared to traditional farmer accepted practices and improve in-season N management.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 22, 2005
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