Role of sulfur mineralization and fertilizer source in corn and soybean production systems

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Mahal, Navreet
Iqbal, Javed
Sassman, Aaron M.
Mathur, Renuka
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© 2021 The Authors. Soil Science Society of America Journal © 2021 Soil Science Society of America
Sawyer, John
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Sulfur (S) is an important nutrient for plant growth and crop yield. In the northern US Corn Belt, a decrease in atmospheric S deposition and an increase in grain harvest have increased the frequency of S deficiency in corn and soybean. Nevertheless, S deficiency remains difficult to predict owing to complex interactions between the production of plant-available sulfate-S from soil organic matter (SOM) mineralization and sulfate-S losses to leaching. Our objective was to measure corn and soybean yield response to four S fertilizers (ammonium sulfate, elemental S, gypsum, and polyhalite) in the first year following fertilizer application and in the second (residual) year following fertilizer application in Iowa, USA. Across four site-years, none of the S fertilizer products increased soybean yield. Across 12 site-years in the first year following application, sulfate-S based fertilizers increased corn yield in four site-years while elemental S had no effect. Across six site-years in the second residual year following application, elemental S, polyhalite, and gypsum increased corn yield in one siteyear while ammonium sulfate had no effect. Laboratory incubations confirmed that there was slower production of plant-available S from elemental compared to sulfate-based fertilizers, potentially explaining the lack of elemental S effect in the first year following application. In contrast to our expectations, there was a weak, but positive relationship between corn yield response to S fertilizer and SOM concentration. Overall, the kinetics of S fertilizer mineralization and solubility appear to affect the magnitude and timing of crop response to S fertilizer.
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Mahal, Navreet, John Sawyer, Javed Iqbal, Aaron M. Sassman, Renuka Mathur, and Mike Castellano. "Role of sulfur mineralization and fertilizer source in corn and soybean production systems." Soil Science Society of America Journal (2022), which has been published in final form at doi:10.1002/saj2.20417. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.