Fate of fertilizer 15N in intensive ridge cultivation with plastic mulching under a monsoon climate

Janine Kettering, Marianne Ruidisch, Camila Gaviria, Yong Sik Ok, Yakov Kuzyakov

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Reducing nitrogen (N) leaching to groundwater requires an improved understanding of the effect of microtopography on N fate. Because of the heterogeneity between positions, ridge tilled fields, frequently used in intensive agriculture, should be treated as two distinct management units. In this study, we measured N dynamics in plastic-mulched ridges and bare furrows with the goal of developing more sustainable agricultural practices with optimal gains, namely crop production versus limited impacts on water quality. We investigated: (1) biomass production; (2) crop N uptake; (3) N retention in soil; and (4) N leaching using 15N fertilizer in a radish crop. Broadcast mineral N fertilizer application prior to planting resulted in high total leaching losses (of up to 390 N kg ha-1). The application of plastic mulch in combination with local fertilizer management did not help to reduce N leaching. At all fertilizer N rates, the mean NO3- concentrations in seepage water were found to be above the WHO drinking water standard of 50 mg NO3- l-1. To reduce NO3- leaching, we recommend: (1) decreasing the fertilizer N rates to a maximum of 150 kg N ha-1; (2) applying fertilizer N in 3-4 split applications according to the plant's N needs; (3) applying fertilizer N to the ridges (after their formation) to avoid losses from the furrows; and (4) increasing the soil organic matter content to enhance the water and nutrient retention by covering the furrows with plant residues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages16
JournalNutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jan
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This study was carried out as part of the International Research Training Group TERRECO (GRK 1565/ 1) funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) at the University of Bayreuth, Germany and the Korean Research Foundation (KRF) at Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, S. Korea. We thank the Punchball Tongil Agricultural Experimental Farm in Haean for providing an agricultural field site as well as advice on local practices. We also want to thank Andreas Kolb for his help in designing the suction lysimeter study. Soil analysis is partly supported by the Cooperative Research Program for Agricultural Science & Technology Development (PJ9070882011) of the RDA in Korea.


  • Intensive crop management
  • N leaching
  • N retention
  • N use efficiency
  • Sandy soils
  • Spatial heterogeneity
  • Stable isotope
  • Suction lysimeter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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