Urea Nitrogen Budget for a Subarctic Agricultural Soil
- C. W. Knight * and
- S. D. Sparrow
Urea is the predominant form of fertilizer N used in Alaska. However, little information is available on the N-recovery efficiency (NRE) or the ultimate fate of urea-N in subarctic soils. This study was conducted to determine the NRE and the ultimate fate of urea-N applied in the spring for barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) production in interior Alaska. Urea and Ca(NO3)2 were applied at 100 kg N ha−1 and either incorporated into or left on the soil surface in each of three cropping years. Also, 15N-labeled urea was applied to small plots. Ammonia traps and soil and plant samples were used to track the form and movement of the applied N. Ammonia volatilization losses were negligible. Deep soil samplings indicated negligible leaching of N. The NRE, as determined by the difference method, was estimated to be about 60% for urea and 73% for Ca(NO3)2. By the isotope dilution method, NRE for urea was calculated to be about 41%. An apparent added nitrogen interaction (ANI) accounted for an additional 16.5%. Approximately 43% of the applied urea-N was recovered in the soil organic matter at the end of the season, 1% remained in the soil as inorganic N, and 15% was unaccounted for and assumed lost through denitrification. Grain yields did not differ due to N source or placement, but total plant N uptake was greater from the Ca(NO3)2 than from the urea source. Nitrogen placement did not affect N uptake. Fertilizer N cycling in this subarctic soil did not differ greatly from fertilizer N cycling in more temperate regions.
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