Maximizing Timothy forage yield and quality by balanced nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur fertilization

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A 3-yr (2005–2007) field experiment was conducted on a Gray Luvisol (Typic Cryoboralf) loam near Star City, SK, Canada, to determine the influence of single and combined annual applications of N, P, and S fertilizers on timothy (Phleum pratense L.) forage dry matter yield (DMY), quality [concentration of crude protein (CP), nitrate N, acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), total P, and total S] and N, P, and S uptake, and residual nitrate N, extractable P, and sulfate-S in soil. The highest DMY and nutrient uptake were obtained when N and S were applied together. Concentration of CP and total P in forage increased with application of N alone, but decreased with the addition of S along with N. Concentrations of nitrate N in forage (< 0.011 g nitrate N kg–1) were much lower than those considered potentially toxic (>2.26 g nitrate N kg–1) to livestock. Concentration of ADF and NDF in forage increased with N application. Concentration of total S in forage increased with S application, but decreased with N application. Residual soil nitrate N in 0 to 60 cm depth increased with N application, but decreased when S was applied in combination with N. Residual soil extractable P in 0 to 15 cm depth increased with P fertilizer, but decreased when N and/or S were applied in combination with P. Residual soil sulfate-S increased with S fertilization, but usually decreased when S was applied in combination with N. In conclusion, combined applications of N and S fertilizers produced maximum forage yield and nutrient uptake of timothy, and reduced accumulation of nitrate N in this soil lacking in these nutrients

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