ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT, vol.101, pp.249-259, 2005 (SCI-Expanded)
Readily available nitrogen (N) sources such as ammonium nitrate with excessive irrigation present a potential hazard for the environment. The computer program Nitrate Leaching and Economic Analysis Package (NLEAP) is a mechanistic model developed for rapid site-specific estimates of nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) moving below the root zone in agricultural crops and potantial impacts of NO3-N leaching into groundwater. In this study, the value of NLEAP was tested to simulate N uptake by crops and NO3-N leaching parameters in large lysimeters under the tomato crop. Three seedlings of tomato variety of H-2274 (Lycopersicinn esculentum L.) were transplanted into each lysimeter. N fertilizer at the rate of 140 kg N hat was sidedressed in two split applications, the first half as ammonium sulphate and the second half as ammonium nitrate. The lysimeters were irrigated based on programs of C 0.75,1.00,1.25 and 1.50, C referring to class A-Pan evaporation coefficients. Parameters such as leaching index (LI), annual leaching risk potential (ALRP), N available for leaching (NAL), amount of NO3-N leached (NL) and amount of N taken up by the crops (NU) were estimated using the NLEAP computer model. To test the ability of model to simulate N uptake and NL, measured values were compared with simulated values. Significant correlations, R-2 = 0.92 and P < 0.03 for the first year and R-2 = 0.86 and P < 0.06 for the second year, were found between measured and simulated values for crop N consumption, indicating that the NLEAP model adequately described crop N uptake under the varied irrigation programs using an optimal N fertilization program for the experimental site. Significant correlations, R-2 = 0.96 and P < 0.01 for the first year and R-2 = 0.97 and P < 0.01 for the second year, were also found between measured and simulated values of NL, indicating that the NLEAP model also adequately predicted NL under the varied irrigation programs. Therefore, this computer model can be useful to estimate the NO3-N moving beyond the root zone under conditions in which the present experiment was carried out. Also, the NLEAP-estimated NAL values and other parameters can also be used to improve N management practices and N fertilizer recommendations that will help to decrease the adverse effect of N fertilizer on groundwater quality and farm profitability.