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Water balance and nitrate leaching in an irrigated maize crop in SW Spain

AutorMoreno Lucas, Félix ; Cayuela, José Antonio ; Fernández Luque, José Enrique ; Fernández Boy, E.; Murillo Carpio, José Manuel ; Cabrera, Francisco
Fecha de publicación1999
EditorKluwer Academic Publishers
CitaciónCrop yield response to deficit irrigation: 95-108 (1999)
ResumenDuring 3 consecutive years (1991-1993) a field experiment was conducted in an intensively irrigated agricultural soil in SW Spain. The main objective of this study was to determine the water flow and nitrate (NO3) leaching, below the root zone, under an irrigated maize crop and after the growing season (bare soil and rainy period). The experiment was carried out on a furrow-irrigated maize crop at two different nitrogen (N)-fertilization rates, one the highest traditionally used by farmers in the region (about 500 kg N ha-1 per year) and the other one-third of the former (170 kg N ha-1 per year). The aim was to obtain data that could be used to propose modifications in N-fertilization to maintain crop yield and to prevent the degradation of the environment. The terms for water balance (crop evapotranspiration, drainage and soil water storage) and nitrate leaching were determined by intensive field monitoring of the soil water content, soil water potential and extraction of the soil solution by a combination of neutron probe, tensiometers and ceramic suction cups. Nitrogen uptake by the plant and NO3-N produced by mineralization were also determined. The results showed that, in terms of water balance, crop evapotranspiration was similar at both N-fertilization rates used. During the irrigation period, drainage below the root zone was limited. Only in 1992 did the occurrence of rainfall during the early growing period, when the soil was wet from previous irrigation, cause considerable drainage. Nitrate leaching during the whole experimental period amounted to 150 and 43 kg ha-1 in the treatments with high and low N-fertilization, respectively. This occurred mainly during the bare soil and rainy periods, except in 1992 when considerable nitrate leaching was observed during the crop season due to the high drainage. Nitrate leaching was not so high during the bare soil period as might have been expected because of the drought during the experimental period. A reduction of N-fertilization thus strongly decreased nitrate leaching without decreasing yield.
Descripción14 páginas, 6 figuras, 4 tablas, 9 referencias.-- Constituye el Capítulo 7.-- Report of an FAO/IAEA Co-ordinated Research Program by Using Nuclear Techniques.-- Executed by the Soil and Water Management&Crop Nutrition Section of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.
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