Comparing Nitrate-N Losses through Leaching by Field Measurements and Nitrogen Balance Estimations

Virginia Aparicio, José Luis Costa, Hernán Sainz Rozas, Daniel Gimenez, Fernando García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Nitrogen (N) balance method is a valuable tool for estimating N losses. However, this technique could lead to incorrect estimates of the amount of nitrate (NO3 N) leaching if processes relevant to N losses are not considered properly. The aim of this study was to compare NO3 -N leaching losses estimated using an N balance (nonrecovered N, Nne) with data of NO3 -N leaching losses (Nl). The experiment was made on a Typic Argiudoll soil planted with corn (five growing seasons) under 0, 100, and 200 kg N ha−1. The ceramic soil-water suction samplers were installed (1 m deep). Drainage was estimated by the LEACH-W model. The greatest overestimation with the N balance method occurred for years with annual rainfall below the historical average and at times of high NO3 -N availability. Future research should focus on investigating mechanisms of N losses relevant under limited water availability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1229-1243
Number of pages15
JournalCommunications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 31 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


  • Nitrogen
  • nutrient cycling
  • water quality


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