With a fresh memory of the drought conditions during last year, recent rains have reduced concerns over water availability for the start of the 2013 growing season, but at the same time, concerns over nitrogen loss have increased. Though nitrogen loss can be difficult to predict due to factors such as time of nitrogen application, type of nitrogen source, soil type and temperature, as well as the amount of precipitation received, Fabian Fernandez, a nutrient management extension specialist in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois, has offered information on nitrogen applications for the growing season.
Fernandez explained that most of the fall-applied nitrogen is either ammonium (NH4+) or a form that transforms rapidly into ammonium. Nitrification, or the conversion of ammonium to nitrate (NO3-), is a bacteria-mediated transformation.
Nitrifying bacteria activity is minimal at temperatures below 50ºF and occurs under aerobic conditions. Thus, the amount of nitrification that occurs in the soil is largely dependent on soil temperature and the time elapsed from application until the soil becomes saturated with water.… Continue readingRead More »