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Effect of Split Fertilizer Application on Ammonia Volatilization Losses in Wild Blueberry Fields

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131598763,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Asif Abbas, Qamar Zaman, Arnold Schuman, Richard Donald, Gordon Brewster, Shoaib Rashid Saleem
Keywords:   Precision agriculture ammonia volatilization Wild blueberry GPS GIS.

Abstract. Generally growers apply fertilizer uniformly once in two year production cycle in wild blueberry fields without considering substantial variation in soil/plant characteristics, topographic features and fruit yield within wild blueberry fields. Split site-specific fertilization may increase crop yield and reduce ammonia volatilization losses. A commercial wild blueberry field was selected in Nova Scotia to evaluate the impact of variable rate split (VRS) fertilization on ammonia volatilization losses. Management zones (MZs) i.e. steep slope (Zone-1), moderate slope (Zone-2) and low lying areas (Zone-3) were delineated based on slope variation within the field. The field was divided into two sections (VRS section and Uniform rate (UR) section). For fertilization GPS-guided prescription map was generated in ArcGIS 10 software. In VRS section, fertilizer was applied three times in Zone-1, Zone-2, and Zone-3 with fertilization rates of 66, 50, and 33 kg ha-1, respectively, using a variable rate (VR) fertilizer spreader. For comparison, single uniform fertilizer application at rate of 200 kg ha-1 was performed in UR section of the selected field. After fertilization, ammonia volatilization trials were established under VRS and UR fertilization in the field. The ammonia volatilization samples were collected after each fertilization, and samples were analyzed for ammonium nitrogen (NH4+-N) concentrations. Leaf samples were taken in third week of July at tip die-back stage and analyzed for macro and micro nutrients. The results of this study suggested that ammonia volatilization losses in VRS section were significantly lower than UR section. It is also observed that the VRS fertilization did not influence negatively to leaf nutrient concentrations. Split fertilizer application in wild blueberry fields can increase input use efficiency, farm profitability, and can reduce environmental contamination.

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