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Volume 1 (2001), Pages 673-681
Research Article

Bermudagrass Management in the Southern Piedmont U.S. IV. Soil Surface Nitrogen Pools

U.S Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Natural Resource Conservation Center, Watkinsville, GA 30677-2373, USA

Academic Editor: Joe Wisniewski

Copyright © 2001 Alan J. Franzluebbers and John A. Stuedemann.


The fate of nitrogen (N) applied in forage-based agricultural systems is important for understanding the long-term production and environmental impacts of a particular management strategy. We evaluated the factorial combination of three types of N fertilization (inorganic, crimson clover [Trifolium incarnatum L.] cover crop plus inorganic, and chicken [Gallus gallus] broiler litter pressure and four types of harvest strategy (unharvested forage, low and high cattle [Bos Taurus] grazing pressure, and monthly haying in summer) on surface residue and soil N pools during the first 5 years of ̒Coastal̓ bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon [L.] Pers.) management. The type of N fertilization used resulted in small changes in soil N pools, except at a depth of 0 to 2 cm, where total soil N was sequestered at a rate 0.2 g ‧ kg–1‧ year–11 greater with inorganic fertilization than with other fertilization strategies. We could account for more of the applied N under grazed systems (76–82%) than under ungrazed systems (35–71%). As a percentage of applied N, 32 and 48% were sequestered as total soil N at a depth of 0 to 6 cm when averaged across fertilization strategies under low and high grazing pressures, respectively, which was equivalent to 6.8 and 10.3 g ‧ m–2 ‧ year–1. Sequestration rates of total soil N under the unharvested-forage and haying strategies were negligible. Most of the increase in total soil N was at a depth of 0 to 2 cm and was due to changes in the particulate organic N (PON) pool. The greater cycling of applied N into the soil organic N pool with grazed compared with ungrazed systems suggests an increase in the long-term fertility of soil.