Intensification of crop production in the mid-hills of Nepal has led to concerns that nitrogen loss by leaching may increase. This study estimated the amount of N leached during two years from rainfed terraces (bari-land) at three locations in Nepal. Maize or upland rice grown in the monsoon season was given either no nutrient inputs or inputs via either nitrogen fertilizer or farmyard manure. Nitrate concentration in soil solution was measured regularly with porous ceramic cup samplers and drainage estimated from a simple soil water balance. Estimated losses of nitrogen by leaching ranged from 0 to 63.5 kg N/ha depending on location and the form of nitrogen applied. Losses from plots receiving no nutrient inputs were generally small - range: 0-35 kg N/ha and losses from plots where nitrogen was applied as manure - range: 2-41 kg N/ha - were typically half those from plots with nitrogen applied as fertilizer. Losses during the post-monsoon crops of finger millet were small -typically 5% of total loss- although losses from the one site with blackgram were larger at about 13%. The highest concentrations of nitrate in solution were measured early in the season as the monsoon rains began and immediately following fertilizer applications. Leaching losses are likely to be minimised if manure is applied as a basal nutrient dressing followed by fertilizer nitrogen later in the season.
Pilbeam, C.J., Gregory, P.J., Munankarmy, R.C. and Tripathi, B.P. Leaching of nitrate from cropped rainfed terraces in the mid-hills of Nepal. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems (2004) 69: 221-232.