La Trobe
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Modelled Quantification of Different Sources of Nitrogen Inefficiency in Semi-Arid Cropping Systems

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journal contribution
posted on 11.08.2021, 04:02 by Niloufar Nasrollahi, James HuntJames Hunt, Caixian Tang, David Cann
Most dryland grain growers in Australia retain all or most of their crop residues to protect the soil from erosion and to improve water conservation but retaining stubbles with a high carbon-to-nitrogen (C:N) ratio can affect N availability to crops. A simulation experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of N fertilizer application rate and residue retention on soil N dynamics. The simulation used seven N fertilizer application rates (0, 25, 50, 75, 100, 150 and 200 kg N ha−1) to wheat (Triticum aestivum) over 27 years (1990–2016) at four locations across a gradient in annual rainfall in Victoria, Australia. Nitrogen immobilization, denitrification and N leaching loss were predicted and collectively defined as sources of N inefficiency. When residues were retained, immobilization was predicted to be the biggest source of inefficiency at all simulated sites at N application rates currently used by growers. Leaching became a bigger source of inefficiency at one site with low soil water-holding capacity, but only at N rates much higher than would currently be commercially applied, resulting in high levels of nitrate (NO3−) accumulating in the soil. Denitrification was an appreciable source of inefficiency at higher rainfall sites. Further research is necessary to evaluate strategies to minimize immobilization of N in semi-arid cropping systems.


This research was funded by La Trobe University through its graduate research program.


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ARTN 1222





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