Yang, J. Y., Huffman, T., Drury, C. F., Yang, X. M., De Jong, R. and Campbell, C. A. 2012. Estimating changes of residual soil nitrogen in Chernozemic soils in Canada. Can. J. Soil Sci. 92: 481-491. Chernozemic soils (Mollisols) account for approximately 68% of total farmland in the prairies and 54% of farmland in Canada. Although many field studies have focused on the importance of N in Chernozemic soils, few modelling studies have been conducted to examine the risk of N contamination to the environment The objective of this research was to estimate temporal and spatial changes in residual soil nitrogen (RSN) on Chernozemic soils at the 1:1 million regional scale. An annual N budget was developed for the study area for the period 1981 to 2006, using the Canadian Agricultural Nitrogen Budget (CANB v3.0) model. The difference between N inputs and outputs is considered RSN, which is defined as the inorganic N left in the soil after harvest. Average RSN levels in the sub-humid Black and Dark Gray Chernozemic soils increased from 7-9 kg N ha-1 in 1981 to 20-23 kg N ha-1 in 2006. Changes in RSN were much less pronounced in the arid and semi-arid Brown and Dark Brown soil zones, where average values increased from approximately 1 kg N ha-1 to 4-7 kg N ha-1 over 25 yr. Commercial fertilizer, manure and biological N2 fixation were the three main sources of the increased N inputs. Drought conditions also contributed to the surplus of N in some years by reducing crop growth and thus the amount of N removed in grain and forage crops. In Chernozemic soils, more careful use of chemical fertilizer N, improved manure N management and greater use of legume-cereal rotations are recommended as methods to maintain soil fertility and reduce nitrogen loss to the environment.
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Vol. 92 • No. 3