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To identify strategies for minimising fertiliser application rates compatible with economic vegetable production - NT1507

Description
In order to comply with the Nitrate and Drinking Water Directive, MAFF requires information on best husbandry practices to reduce leaching from intensive crop rotations. This study will aim to provide information on the best methods of limiting nitrate leaching in testing intensively cropped rotations. The principles drawn from this study will ideally be extendable to a range of rotations, including those with arable crops where significant effects are more difficult to determine. The study will be composed of the following 4 objectives: 1. To quantify the release of N from crop residues and establish factors that will maximise carryover into the next crop; 2. To quantify factors affecting the mineralization of soil organic matter in intensively managed soils; 3. To provide information on Good Agricultural Practice in intensive (vegetable) rotations to achieve economic production with minimal leaching of N; and 4. To improve precision of N fertiliser recommendations for field vegetables, taking into account previously incorporated crop residues. These objectives will be met through a series of experimental approaches. In the first year of the study, work will be focused on examining utilisation of N from crop residues of widely different C:N ratio (cauliflower, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, red beet and wheat). The second and third years of the project will concentrate on consolidating the knowledge gained from the earlier experiments within intensive rotations. Experiments will be conducted with the aim of assessing effects of cultivation date and method on the release of N from soil organic matter and from incorporated crop residues. Results of the study should lead to the development of more effective agricultural practices that reduce leaching of N from crop rotation systems to groundwater.
Objective
The work aims to provide information on the best methods of limiting nitrate leaching in testing intensively cropped rotations from which principles can be drawn for application to a range of rotations including those with arable crops where significant effects are more difficult to determine. An important part of the project will examine the best way of managing crop residues to ensure maximisation of use by the following crops. The second part of the project will be concerned with maximising the efficiency of nitrogen use by more targeted applications of nitrogen in order to leave smaller potentially leachable residues.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1995

To: 1998

Cost: £474,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Horticulture Research International
Keywords
              
Fields of Study
Fertilisers and Nitrate Pollution