A Mathematical Model for the Effects of Fertilization on Nitrogen Concentrations in Unsaturated Soil on Blueberry Farms in Southern New Jersey
Environmental Modeling and Assessment
Nitrogen is commonly known as a food source for crops. However, the nitrogen compounds used in crop fertilizers, most commonly nitrate (NO3) and ammonium (NH4), are not widely understood. Blueberry plants do not take up these compounds as efficiently as organic nitrogen so varying amounts of leaching into the soil and groundwater will occur. A biogeochemical model consisting of ordinary and partial differential equations is implemented to computationally predict the concentrations of nitrate and ammonium in unsaturated soil of blueberry plants, specifically in the southern region of New Jersey. The model takes into account the type of soil of the region, the nitrate uptake of the plant, the water content in the roots region, the pressure heads in the soil pores, and the application rates of fertilizers containing nitrate, ammonium, and organic nitrogen. Computational simulations demonstrate that the model accounts for natural processes and, in addition, show that commonly used fertilizer application rates cause unnecessarily high concentrations of both nitrate and ammonium in the unsaturated soil level. Further, simulations show that decreasing nitrate fertilizer applications by 85.7% in annual and 91.8% in bi-annual schedules provides an optimal system for safe reapplication.
Halligan, A., Becotte, A., Crane, A., & Dougherty, E. (2018). A Mathematical Model for the Effects of Fertilization on Nitrogen Concentrations in Unsaturated Soil on Blueberry Farms in Southern New Jersey. Environmental Modeling and Assessment, 23 (5), 583-595. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10666-018-9589-3