Cation and Nitrate Leaching in an Oxisol of the Brazilian Amazon
- M. D. Cahn *,
- D. R. Bouldin,
- M. S. Cravo and
- W. T. Bowen
- U SDA-ARS Crop Res. Protection Unit, 1304 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Urbana, IL 61801 USA
D ep. of Soil, Crop, and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell Univ. Ithaca, NY 14853 USA
E MBRAPA-Centro de Pesquisa Agroflorestal da Amazonia, km 30, Caixa Postal 455, Manaus, AM 69.000 Brazil
U niv. of Florida, Frazier Rogers Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611 USA
High rates of N fertilizers are often necessary to achieve yield goals in the humid tropics, where subsoil acidity prevents deep crop rooting. However, leaching of fertilizer nitrate may accelerate the leaching of bases from the crop rooting zone, leading to an acidification of the topsoil and a reduction in crop yields. Our ojective was to investigate the influence of urea and legume green manure sources of N on crop yields, leaching of cations, and the fertility of the plow layer of a clayey Oxisol (Typic Acrudox) of the central Amazon basin. We established a split-plot field experiment near Manaus, Brazil where main plots received 2 levels of lime (0 and 4 Mt/ha CaCO3) and sub-plots were cropped with (i) a legume green manure (Canavalia ensiformes L. or Mucuna aterrima L.) followed by maize (Zea mays L.); (ii) maize ceiving 300 kg ha−1 of urea-N, or (iii) left bare-fallow with an application of 300 kg ha−1 of urea-N. Plots were periodically sampled to 1.2 m during three cropping seasons. The field site received 4265 mm of rain during the experiment (16 mo). Legume crops accumulated between 142 and 280 kg ha−1 of N. The distribution of NO3 in the soil profile changed in a pattern consistent with leaching. All treatments lost Ca and Mg from the plow layer during the experimental period. Losses were greatest (500–1000 kg ha−1 for Ca and 50 kg ha−1 for Mg) in plots treated with urea and lime. Leaching of bases and the generation of acidity decreased base saturation in the plow layer of all treatments, but was minimized in plots receiving legume green manure N, perhaps because less inorganic N was applied and/or the legume crops recycled leached bases. Unlimed plots receiving urea, had the highest increase in acidity in the 0 to 30-cm layer and a corresponding 44% reduction in grain yield between the first and third maize crops.
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