Measurement of nitrate leaching losses from arable plots under different nitrogen input regimes

A. J.A. Vinten*, R. S. Howard, M. H. Redman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract. Leaching losses of nitrate‐nitrogen were measured from a set of eight hydrologically isolated plots on a clay loam soil over the period from September 1987 to February 1990. Variable drainflow recovery from the plots hampered accurate estimation of nitrate loading, but results suggest that, when inorganic nitrogen fertilizer is applied up to the recommended amount, there is little influence of the amount applied on the amount leached. We did, however, observe the following effects on nitrate leaching: leguminous green manure incorporated in autumn increased leaching of nitrate‐nitrogen by 10–15 kg per hectare during the winter; autumn cultivation caused some increase in leaching compared with no cultivation in one year; some systematic variations in nitrate leaching occurred between years and between plots, but were unrelated to treatments. From the results we conclude that green manuring does not provide sufficient nitrogen for organically grown crops on this soil but contributes significantly to nitrate leaching, and that growing spring cereals, with the land remaining in stubble as long as possible in autumn, may be the best strategy to minimize nitrate leaching.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalSoil Use and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPrint publication - Mar 1991


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