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Using an anion exchange membrane to predict soil available N and S supplies and the impact of N and S fertilization on Canola and wheat growth

Qian, P. and J. J. Schoenau. 2007. Pedosphere 17: 77-83


A growth chamber study was conducted to determine the relationships between the supply of soil available nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) and canola (Brassica napus) and wheat (Triticum aestivun L. 'Biggar') N and S uptake and yield in three Western Canadian soils. The suitability of one-hour burial with an anion exchange membrane (AEM) was assessed for its utility as a quick test of the available N:S balance in the soil. Canola and wheat were grown on a Luvisolic soil low in available S and on Brown and Black Chernozemic soils low in both available N and S, with different rates and combinations of N and S fertilizers applied. AEM burial was used to assess soil available nitrate and sulfate supply rates after fertilization. Dry matter yield and N and S concentrations in plant tissues were determined after 6 weeks of growth. The soil available N:S ratio determined by AEM burial closely reflected the relative supplies of available N and S as revealed in the N:S ratios of plant tissue dry matter. The highest yields were achieved where the available N:S ratio in soil and plant tissue ranged from 5 to 13. Thus, a one-hour burial of an AEM probe in the field may be a useful tool to quickly test if a balanced N and S supply is present in the soil for optimum crop yield.

Key Words

anion exchange membrane, canola, N, S, wheat