Growing Soybean Prior to Corn Increased Soil Nitrogen Supply and N Fertilizer Efficiency for Corn in Cold and Humid Conditions of Eastern Canada

Adrien N. Dayegamiye, Judith Nyiraneza, Johann K. Whalen, Michèle Grenier, Anne Drapeau


Growing soybean (Glycine max L.) prior to corn (Zea mays L) can enhance corn grain and nitrogen (N) use efficiency compared to continuous corn. This two year study (2007-2008) was conducted at 62 sites in Quebec (Eastern Canada) to assess the effect of crop rotations [soybean-corn, soybean-wheat (Triticum aestivum L.,)-corn and corn-corn] on corn yield, N uptake, N fertilizer efficiency (NFE), and the economic optimum N rate (EONR). Plots within each crop rotation received N fertilizer rates from 0 to 250 kg N ha-1 to assess the N contribution from the preceding soybean crop. Corn grain yields ranged from 8.4 to 10.8 Mg ha-1 and were lower in continuous corn than in the crop rotations. Corn N uptake and NFE varied from 89 to 164 kg N ha-1 and from 45 to 80 kg grain per kg N fertilizer, respectively. A significant interaction of crop rotation and year on corn N uptake and NFE was obtained implying that annual variations influenced soil N supply. The EONR for corn was lower under crop rotations than continuous corn in 2008 only. No difference in corn yield, NFE and EONR was observed for soybean-corn and soybean-wheat-corn crop sequences. In conclusion, crop rotations including soybean increased soil N availability and reduced EONR from 32 to 45 kg ha-1 for corn grown in 2008.

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