Variable Rate Fertilization in Wild Blueberry Fields to Improve Crop Productivity and Reduce Environmental Impacts
Saleem, Shoaib Rashid
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Two wild blueberry fields were selected to evaluate the impact of variable rate (VR) fertilization on crop productivity, surface and subsurface water quality. Management zones were delineated based on slope variability, and different fertilizer rates were applied according to prescription maps. Runoff collectors were place in the fields to measure the nutrient losses in surface runoff, while lysimeters were installed to evaluate the impact of VR fertilization (VRF) on subsurface water quality. The VR treatment significantly decreased phosphorus and nitrogen loadings in surface runoff as compared to uniform treatment. The concentrations of nutrients in subsurface water samples were also significantly lower for VR treatment as compared to uniform treatment. The excessive nutrients enhanced vegetative growth in low lying areas of uniform fertilization, while berry yield was less. Based on these results, it can be concluded that VRF in wild blueberry fields improved the crop productivity and potential environmental impacts.