Excessive nitrate leaching represents a potential groundwater contamination. This study was carried out in an experiment area located in the city of Piracicaba/SP- Brazil, on a sandy-clayey loam soil. The objective was to evaluate internal drainage and nitrate leaching at the depth of 0.80 m in a crop succession, using 15N-labeled ammonium sulfate, in two split N applications. Evaluations were based on two corn crops, the first grown during the 2003/2004 cropping season, and the second in the 2004/2005 season, and on a black oat crop grown during the off-season. Treatments consisted of a single 120 kg N ha-1 rate, in the form of labeled (15N) ammonium sulfate, and two split N applications at 30-90 and 60-60 kg N ha-1. The fertilizer was applied in previously-defined subplots, in the first corn cultivation only (2003/04 cropping season). Evaluations included: soil physical and water content characterization; water flux density in the soil, and nitrate leaching at a 0.80 m depth; nitrogen in the soil solution derived from the fertilizer and 15N recovery by the soil solution at the end of the corn and black oat crop cycles. Loss by leaching in the 1st corn cultivation was approximately 96 and 68 kg ha-1 nitrate, for treatments with 60 kg ha-1 and 30 kg N ha-1 applied at seeding, respectively, of which only 3 and 1 kg ha-1 were from the nitrogen fertilizer.
flux density; 15N-ammonium sulfate; no-till; soil solution