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Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 23; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020023

Assessing Nitrogen Use Efficiency and Nitrogen Loss in a Forage-Based System Using a Modeling Approach

Council for Agricultural Research and Economics – Research Centre for the Soil-Plant System (CREA-RPS), Via della Navicella 2-4, Roma 00184, Italy
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Academic Editors: Francesco Montemurro and Mariangela Diacono
Received: 29 January 2016 / Revised: 1 April 2016 / Accepted: 8 April 2016 / Published: 12 April 2016
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Abstract

In intensive agriculture, N supply often exceeds crop requirements, even in nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZ). In farmland, the N surplus gives rise to NO3 leaching and consequent groundwater pollution. The present study aimed at proposing measures to reduce N leaching and hence improve N efficiency in a buffalo livestock farm located in the NVZ of Latina plain (Central Italy). The farm was cultivated with forage crops in a double annual crop rotation: Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) in winter and silage corn (Zea mays L.) in summer. Mineral and organic fertilizers were supplied to both crops. The annual N budget and soil solution NO3-N concentrations were evaluated using a modeling approach. The performance of the WinEPIC model in simulating the response of the NO3-N concentration in percolation to the N application rate was assessed and validated by field measurements of the NO3-N concentration in the soil solution. Three scenarios were proposed to identify the best practice to minimize the environmental impact of N application without significant yield loss. Also, recommendations of best practices in N fertilization and animal manure spreading were given. This study thus provides useful preliminary information for decision-making in agriculture/environmental policies. View Full-Text
Keywords: nitrogen balance; nitrate vulnerable zones; forage crops; WinEPIC model; buffalo livestock; slurry; manure nitrogen balance; nitrate vulnerable zones; forage crops; WinEPIC model; buffalo livestock; slurry; manure
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Piccini, C.; Di Bene, C.; Farina, R.; Pennelli, B.; Napoli, R. Assessing Nitrogen Use Efficiency and Nitrogen Loss in a Forage-Based System Using a Modeling Approach. Agronomy 2016, 6, 23.

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