Fate of fertilizer 15N in intensive ridge cultivation with plastic mulching under a monsoon climate

Janine Kettering, Marianne Ruidisch, Camila Gaviria, Yong Sik Ok, Yakov Kuzyakov

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39 Citations (Scopus)


Reducing nitrogen (N) leaching to groundwater requires an improved understanding of the effect of microtopography on N fate. Because of the heterogeneity between positions, ridge tilled fields, frequently used in intensive agriculture, should be treated as two distinct management units. In this study, we measured N dynamics in plastic-mulched ridges and bare furrows with the goal of developing more sustainable agricultural practices with optimal gains, namely crop production versus limited impacts on water quality. We investigated: (1) biomass production; (2) crop N uptake; (3) N retention in soil; and (4) N leaching using 15N fertilizer in a radish crop. Broadcast mineral N fertilizer application prior to planting resulted in high total leaching losses (of up to 390 N kg ha-1). The application of plastic mulch in combination with local fertilizer management did not help to reduce N leaching. At all fertilizer N rates, the mean NO3- concentrations in seepage water were found to be above the WHO drinking water standard of 50 mg NO3- l-1. To reduce NO3- leaching, we recommend: (1) decreasing the fertilizer N rates to a maximum of 150 kg N ha-1; (2) applying fertilizer N in 3-4 split applications according to the plant's N needs; (3) applying fertilizer N to the ridges (after their formation) to avoid losses from the furrows; and (4) increasing the soil organic matter content to enhance the water and nutrient retention by covering the furrows with plant residues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages16
JournalNutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jan
Externally publishedYes


  • Intensive crop management
  • N leaching
  • N retention
  • N use efficiency
  • Sandy soils
  • Spatial heterogeneity
  • Stable isotope
  • Suction lysimeter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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