Nitrate in Groundwater and Integration of Nitrogen-Catch Crop in Rice-Sweet Pepper Cropping System

  • Shrestha R
  • Ladha J
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In the intensive rice (Oryza saliva L.)-based cropping systems of the tropics, dry season (DS) nonrice crop-fallow (dry-to-wet [DTW] transition)-wet season (WS) rice is a common practice. Excessive use of N fertilizer in high-value crops like vegetables grown in DS is economically motivated. The risk of NO3 leaching into groundwater during DTW transition is an environmental concern. Experiments were conducted in seven rice-sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum L. var. annuum) fanners' fields to determine (i) the extent of NOj-N contamination in groundwater, and (ii) the effectiveness of a N-catch crop to decrease NO3 leaching. Twelve of twenty water sources had near or above World Health Organization's (WHO) NO3-N limit for drinking water. Soil mineral N (upper 100 cm) ranged from 111 to 694 kg ha ' was decreased by 10 to 68% in plots with DTW crop. In fallow plots where mineral N was either maintained or increased, there was movement to lower soil profile demonstrating INO3 leaching without a crop. On average, maize (Zea mays L.) captured 176 kg N ha ' and indigo (Indigofera tinctoria L.) 194 kg N ha '. Indigo ac- quired

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  • R.K. Shrestha

  • J.K. Ladha

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