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Quantitative effects of soil depth and soil and fertilizer nitrogen on nitrogen uptake by tall fescue and switchgrass

, : Quantitative effects of soil depth and soil and fertilizer nitrogen on nitrogen uptake by tall fescue and switchgrass. Communications in Soil Science & Plant Analysis 22(15-16): 1647-1660

In semi-arid regions, soil depth influences soil N uptake, but not fertilizer N uptake. How soil depth interacts with soil and fertilizer N to influence N uptake in humid regions is not known. The objective was to determine the relative importance of soil depth and soil and fertiizer N uptake, by forage grasses. Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) were grown on soils of varying depths. Nitrogen rates are 0, 90, and 180 kgN/ha of 15N depleted (NH4)SO4 applied in a split application on fescue and in one application to switchgrass. Total N and fertilizer N uptake, were regressed against fertilizer N, variables related to soil depth (waterholding capacity (WC), water use (WU), water loss (WL), and total soil N (SN)). Soil variables explained 28% of the accountable variation in total N uptake by first cut fescue but only 10% by second cut fescue. Soil variables explained 11% of the accountable variation in fertilizer N uptake by first cut fescue and none by the second. Soil variables explained 40% of the accountable variation in the total N uptake, by switchgrass, but only 10% of the variation in the fertilizer N uptake. Only where soil depth was less than 90 cm did it have a significant effect on the fertilizer N uptake by first cut fescue. Soil depth had no significant effect on the uptake, of fertilizer N by second cut fescue or switchgrass.

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