Nitrogen volatilization from Arizona irrigation waters

E. R. Norton, J. C. Silvertooth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A laboratory study was initiated to investigate the effects of temperature (25, 30, 35, and 40°C) and water quality on the loss of fertilizer nitrogen (N) through volatilization out of irrigation waters collected from 10 different Arizona sources. A 300-mL volume of each water source was placed in 450-mL beakers open to the atmosphere in a constant-temperature water bath with 10 mg of analytical-grade ammonium sulfate [(NH4)2SO4] dissolved into each sample. Small aliquots were drawn at specific time intervals over a 24-h period and then analyzed for ammonium (NH4 +)-N and nitrate (NO3 -)-N concentrations. Results showed potential losses from volatilization to be highly temperature dependent. Total losses (after 24 h) ranged from 30-48% at 25°C to more than 90% at 40°C. Volatilization loss of fertilizer N from irrigation waters was found to be significant and should be considered when making decisions regarding fertilizer N applications for crop production in Arizona particularly when using ammonia-based fertilizers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2378-2397
Number of pages20
JournalCommunications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Issue number15-16
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Irrigation water
  • Nitrogen
  • Volatilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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