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Fate of urea nitrogen applied to a banana crop in the wet tropics of Queensland

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Prasertsak, P., Freney, J.R., Saffigna, P. G., Denmead, O.T. and Prove, B.G. (2001) Fate of urea nitrogen applied to a banana crop in the wet tropics of Queensland. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 59 . pp. 65-73. ISSN 1573-0867

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1009806826141


This paper reports a study in the wet tropics of Queensland on the fate of urea applied to a dry or wet soil surface under banana plants. The transformations of urea were followed in cylindrical microplots (10.3 cm diameter × 23 cm long), a nitrogen (N) balance was conducted in macroplots (3.85 m × 2.0 m) with 15N labelled urea, and ammonia volatilization was determined with a mass balance micrometeorological method. Most of the urea was hydrolysed within 4 days irrespective of whether the urea was applied onto dry or wet soil. The nitrification rate was slow at the beginning when the soil was dry, but increased greatly after small amounts of rain; in the 9 days after rain 20% of the N applied was converted to nitrate. In the 40 days between urea application and harvesting, the macroplots the banana plants absorbed only 15% of the applied N; at harvest the largest amounts were found in the leaves (3.4%), pseudostem (3.3%) and fruit (2.8%). Only 1% of the applied N was present in the roots. Sixty percent of the applied N was recovered in the soil and 25% was lost from the plant-soil system by either ammonia volatilization, leaching or denitrification. Direct measurements of ammonia volatilization showed that when urea was applied to dry soil, and only small amounts of rain were received, little ammonia was lost (3.2% of applied N). In contrast, when urea was applied onto wet soil, urea hydrolysis occurred immediately, ammonia was volatilized on day zero, and 17.2% of the applied N was lost by the ninth day after that application. In the latter study, although rain fell every day, the extensive canopy of banana plants reduced the rainfall reaching the fertilized area under the bananas to less than half. Thus even though 90 mm of rain fell during the volatilization study, the fertilized area did not receive sufficient water to wash the urea into the soil and prevent ammonia loss. Losses by leaching and denitrification combined amounted to 5% of the applied N.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Plant culture > Fruit and fruit culture > Culture of individual fruits or types of fruit > Bananas
Live Archive:10 Jan 2024 04:30
Last Modified:10 Jan 2024 04:30

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