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 JEP  Vol.7 No.10 , September 2016
Suction Cup Samplers for Estimating Nitrate-Nitrogen in Soil Water in Irrigated Sugarbeet Production
Abstract: Efforts have increased to measure nitrate losses from farmland under different management practices due to environmental and public concerns over levels of nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) in surface and ground waters. This study evaluated the effect of conventional tillage (CT) and strip tillage (ST) practices and three N application rates on NO3-N concentrations in soil water at a 76 cm depth under irrigated sugarbeet (Beta vulgaris L.) in a clay loam soil. Nitrogen rates were applied as dry urea at 120, 150, 180 kg N ha-1 in 2006; 130, 160, 190 kg N ha-1 in 2007; and 110, 140, 170 kg N ha-1 in 2008. Soil water volumes were measured weekly during each growing season using three ceramic suction cup samplers per plot placed at a 76 cm depth below the soil surface under each tillage. Results indicated that NO3-N concentrations at the 76 cm depth in the soil profile were not significantly affected by either tillage practice or by N application rate due to soil variability across the field and due to suction cup samplers’ biased estimate of soil water. The three N rates under CT and ST practices maintained NO3-N concentrations below the root zone to levels exceeding the 10 mg L-1 safe drinking water maximum level in all three years. There were large variations in NO3-N concentrations among replicates within each tillage and N rate that were likely caused by variability in soil physical, hydraulic and chemical properties that impacted water movement through the soil profile, N dynamics and leaching below the root zone of sugarbeet. In conclusion, suction cup samplers are point water measurement devices that reveal considerable variability among replicates within each treatment due to the heterogeneity of field soils. Further, these samplers are not recommended in heterogeneous soils with preferential flow characteristics.
Cite this paper: Jabro, J. , Stevens, W. , Iversen, W. , Allen, B. and Sainju, U. (2016) Suction Cup Samplers for Estimating Nitrate-Nitrogen in Soil Water in Irrigated Sugarbeet Production. Journal of Environmental Protection, 7, 1342-1354. doi: 10.4236/jep.2016.710117.
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