Nitrogen fertilization effect on phosphorus remediation potential of three perennial warm-season forages

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Warm-season C4 grasses are capable of removing excess soil nutrients because of their high yield potential and nutrient uptake efficiency. Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flügge), limpograss [Hemarthria altissima (Poir.) Stapf & Hubb], and stargrass (Cynodon nlemfuensis Vanderyst), three commonly used pasture grasses in South-Central Florida, were grown to examine the effect of increasing N rates on herbage production and soil P removal. Nitrogen was applied at rates of 67, 90, and 134 kg N ha–1 harvest–1, representing 1, 1.3, and 2 times the recommended N fertilizer application rate for hay production. During 3 yr of evaluation, all three grasses showed a positive P-removal potential that increased with increasing N fertilizer application. Phosphorus removed by forages over the 3-yr period for the highest N application rate was 106, 132, and 147 kg ha–1 for limpograss, bahiagrass, and stargrass, respectively. Mehlich 1 extractable P from the Ap horizon of all plots decreased by as much as 80% of the initial P load over the study period; only 15 to 17% of which appeared to leach to subsurface horizons. Nitrogen application enhanced P uptake and consequently reduced P transport to deep (>13 cm) soil depths. These data indicate that stargrass, bahiagrass, and limpograss managed intensively for hay production represent effective options in removing excess soil P from P-impacted sites.

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