Drainage and Nitrate Leaching from Artificially Drained Maize Fields Simulated by the Precision Nitrogen Management Model

Rebecca Marjerison, Jeff Melkonian, John Hutson, Harold van Es, Shai Sela, Larry Geohring, Jeffrey Vetsch

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    Environmental nitrogen (N) losses (e.g., nitrate leaching, denitrification, and ammonia volatilization) frequently occur in maize (Zea mays L.) agroecosystems. Decision support systems, designed to optimize the application of N fertilizer in these systems, have been developed using physically based models such as the Precision Nitrogen Management (PNM) model of soil and crop processes, which is an integral component of Adapt-N, a decision support tool providing N fertilizer recommendations for maize production. Such models can also be used to estimate N losses associated with particular management practices and over a range of current climates and future climate projections. The objectives of this study were to update the PNM model to include an option for simulating soil-water processes in artificially drained soils, and to calibrate the revised PNM model and test it against multiyear field studies in New York and Minnesota with different soils and management practices. Minimal calibration was required for the model. Denitrification rate constants were calibrated by minimizing the error between simulated and observed nitrate leaching for each study site. The normalized root mean squared error of cumulative daily drainage for the validation sets ranged from 10 to 23%. For cumulative daily nitrate leaching, the normalized root mean squared error ranged from 11 to 28% for the validation sets. The minimal calibration required and relatively simple data inputs make the PNM model a broadly applicable tool for simulating water and N flows in maize systems.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2044-2052
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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