Tillage and Split N-Fertilization Effects on Subsurface Drainage Water Quality and Crop Yields

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Kanwar, Rameshwar
Baker, James
Baker, D.
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Kanwar, Rameshwar
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Field experiments were conducted to study the effects of no-till and conventional tillage, and single and slit N-fertilizer applications, for continuous corn production on the leaching of nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) through subsurface drainage water and below the root zone. The comparison between conventional and no-till was made by applying a single application of 175 kg-N/ha at the time of planting, and the comparison between single and split N applications was made for the no-tillage system. Six experimental plots, each drained with a single subsurface drain, were intercepted by installing sumps for measuring drain flow rates and collecting drainage water samples for NO3-N analyses. Also, four sets of piezometers were installed for deep water sampling. In the first year of the experiments, tillage and N-fertilizer management schemes did not significantly affect NO3-N concentrations in drainage. However, in the third year, the average NO3-N concentrations in drainage from conventional tillage plots were significantly greater than those of no-till plots when a single application of 175 kg-N/ha was made. The results of this study indicate that split N-applications totaling 125 kg/ha reduced NO3-N concentrations in drainage compared with a single, higher rate of application of 175 kg/ha for the no-tillage treatment.


This article was published in Transactions of the ASAE 31 (1988): 453–461, doi:10.13031/2013.30730. Posted with permission.

Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 1988