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Economic and environmental impacts of long-term nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization


Journal of Production Agriculture 9(1): 114-118
Economic and environmental impacts of long-term nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization
Nitrogen and P fertilizers are needed for optimum production and economic returns from irrigated continuous corn (Zea mays L.). However, excessive application of N must be avoided to minimize adverse environmental impacts. The objectives of this study were to determine: (i) the economic optimum rate of N for irrigated continuous corn, (ii) how sensitive optimal N rates were to corn and N prices as well as yield potential, and (iii) the relationship of optimal N rate to profile nitrate-N accumulation. Yield data from a long-term study were used to estimate quadratic production functions, with and without P, for corn yield as a function of N rate. Six rates of N (0, 40, 80, 120, 160, and 200 lb/acre) and two rates of P-2O-5 (0 and 40 lb/acre) were applied annually from 1961 to 1991 on a Ulysses silt loam (fine silty, mixed, mesic, Aridic Haplustoll) near Tribune, KS. Without fertilizer P, soil P levels declined to deficient levels of about 7 ppm Bray 1-P. The economic optimal N rate, with P, was 159 lb/acre. Phosphorus fertilization increased the economic optimal N rate by about 15 lb/acre, while increasing maximum yields by almost 60 bu/acre, increasing maximum net revenue more than 130/acre, and decreasing minimum cost of production by 0.56/bu. The economic optimal N rate was similar for low-, medium-, and high-yielding years and application of insurance N reduced profitability. The economic optimal N rate was relatively insensitive to changing N and corn prices. Profile nitrate-N content was relatively low and essentially the same when N was applied with P at the economic optimal N rate or less. This indicates that applying N to maximize profit does not cause nitrate accumulation or leaching concerns. However, accumulation and movement of nitrate below the crop root zone increased when N was applied in excess of the economic optimal rate or without adequate P fertilizer.


Accession: 002808310



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