Rate and Timing of Meat and Bone Meal (Tankage) Applications Influence Growth and Yield of Sweet Corn (Zea mays Var. Saccharata) and Soil Water Nitrate Concentrations in Two Hawaiian Soils.

Silvasy, Tiare F.
Tropical Plant & Soil Sciences
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Meat and bone meal (MBM) is a locally available organic waste derived from animal byproducts that has been used as a high-nitrogen organic fertilizer (9-10% N). Currently, it is being evaluated as a local input to produce food for a growing population in an environmentally and economically viable way. Despite efforts by previous researchers, the data needed to make a full range of fertilizer recommendations using MBM is limited. The two main objectives of this thesis were to determine effects of MBM application rates (0, 112, 224, 336, 448, 672 kg N ha-1) and timing on: 1) sweet corn growth, yield and quality and 2) soil water nitrate concentrations within and below the root zone. The study was conducted at two agriculture research stations of the University of Hawaii, at Waimanalo Experiment Station from June to August 2015, and Poamoho Experiment Station from April to July, 2016 on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, USA. The experiment was arranged in a split-plot randomized complete block design (RCBD) with four replications. Treatments of timing included preplant (100% applied before planting) and split (50% preplant with 50% applied one month after planting). Treatments of rates (0, 112, 224, 336, 448, 672 kg N ha-1) were randomly distributed in the sub-plots sized 3.05 × 3.05 m2. Suction cup lysimeters were installed at two depths in each plot, 30 and 60 cm, to collect soil pore water on a weekly basis for nutrient analysis. A Minolta-502 SPAD leaf chlorophyll meter was used to monitor leaf greenness as an indicator of N status on a weekly basis. Marketable yield of sweet corn and data on plant growth parameters were collected. Corn growth, yield and leaf chlorophyll content increased with increasing application rate (P < 0.05). At Waimanalo, MBM application rates significantly affected nitrate (NO3-N) concentrations within and below the root zone (P < 0.10). Conversely, at Poamoho, timing but not rate of MBM application had significant effects on NO3-N concentrations within and below the root zone (P < 0.10). Results of these field trials suggested that MBM is a viable organic N fertilizer for sweet corn. N rates of 224 kg ha-1 or above were not different from each other, suggesting that application rates of 224 kg ha-1 are sufficient. When MBM was applied in split applications, corn yield can be increased with an application rate of 336 kg N ha-1 while keeping nitrate leaching levels below the root zone comparable to that in the N rate of 224 kg ha-1. Split of application of MBM reduced NO3-N concentrations below the root zone by 20% and 40% at Waimanalo and Poamoho, respectively. The results provide some support for benefits of split application of MBM to reduce NO3-N leaching. However, more research is needed to further investigate the nutrient release patterns from split applications of MBM in field sites under various conditions and soil types and for longer periods of study.
maize, organic, fertilizer, nitrogen, synchronization
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