Optimized nitrogen application methods to improve nitrogen use efficiency and nodule nitrogen fixation in a maize-soybean relay intercropping system
YONG Tai-wen1*, CHEN Ping1*, DONG Qian2, DU Qing1, YANG Feng1, WANG Xiao-chun1, LIU Wei-guo1, YANG Wen-yu1
1 College of Agronomy, Sichuan Agricultural University/Key Laboratory of Crop Eco-physiology and Farming System in Southwest, Ministry of Agriculture, Chengdu 611130, P.R.China 2 Shehong Farm Bureau, Suining 629200, P.R.China
Abstract In China, the abuse of chemical nitrogen (N) fertilizer results in decreasing N use efficiency (NUE), wasting resources and causing serious environmental problems. Cereal-legume intercropping is widely used to enhance crop yield and improve resource use efficiency, especially in Southwest China. To optimize N utilization and increase grain yield, we conducted a two-year field experiment with single-factor randomized block designs of a maize-soybean intercropping system (IMS). Three N rates, NN (no nitrogen application), LN (lower N application: 270 kg N ha–1), and CN (conventional N application: 330 kg N ha–1), and three topdressing distances of LN (LND), e.g., 15 cm (LND1), 30 cm (LND2) and 45 cm (LND3) from maize rows were evaluated. At the beginning seed stage (R5), the leghemoglobin content and nitrogenase activity of LND3 were 1.86 mg plant–1 and 0.14 mL h–1 plant–1, and those of LND1 and LND2 were increased by 31.4 and 24.5%, 6.4 and 32.9% compared with LND3, respectively. The ureide content and N accumulation of soybean organs in LND1 and LND2 were higher than those of LND3. The N uptake, NUE and N agronomy efficiency (NAE) of IMS under CN were 308.3 kg ha–1, 28.5%, and 5.7 kg grain kg–1 N, respectively; however, those of LN were significantly increased by 12.4, 72.5, and 51.6% compared with CN, respectively. The total yield in LND1 and LND2 was increased by 12.3 and 8.3% compared with CN, respectively. Those results suggested that LN with distances of 15–30 cm from the topdressing strip to the maize row was optimal in maize-soybean intercropping. Lower N input with an optimized fertilization location for IMS increased N fixation and N use efficiency without decreasing grain yield.
About author: YONG Tai-wen, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CHEN Ping, E-mail: email@example.com;
* These authors contributed equally to this work.
Cite this article:
YONG Tai-wen, CHEN Ping, DONG Qian, DU Qing, YANG Feng, WANG Xiao-chun, LIU Wei-guo, YANG Wen-yu. Optimized nitrogen application methods to improve nitrogen use efficiency and nodule nitrogen fixation in a maize-soybean relay intercropping system[J]. Journal of Integrative Agriculture,
2018, 17(03): 664-676.
Abbasi M K, Tahir M M, Sadiq A, Iqbal M, Zafar M. 2012. Yield and nitrogen use efficiency of rainfed maize response to splitting and nitrogen rates in Kashmir, Pakistan. Agronomy Journal, 104, 448-457.
Awal M A, Koshi H, Ikeda T. 2006. Radiation interception and use by maize/peanut intercrop canopy. Agricultural & Forest Meteorology, 139, 74-83.
Caliskan S, Ozkaya I, Caliskan M E, Arslan M. 2008. The effects of nitrogen and iron fertilization on growth, yield and fertilizer use efficiency of soybean in a mediterranean-type soil. Field Crops Research, 108, 126-132.
Chalk P M. 1997. Dynamics of biologically fixed N in legume-cereal rotations: A review. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 49, 303-316.
Chen X, Zhang F, Römheld V, Horlacher D, Schulz R, Böning-Zilkens M, Wang P, Claupein W. 2006. Synchronizing N supply from soil and fertilizer and N demand of winter wheat by an improved Nmin method. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 74, 91-98.
Collier R, Tegeder M. 2012. Soybean ureide transporters play a critical role in nodule development, function and nitrogen export. The Plant Journal, 72, 355-367.
Constantin J, Mary B, Laurent F, Aubrion G, Fontaine A, Kerveillant P, Beaudoin N. 2010. Effects of catch crops, no till and reduced nitrogen fertilization on nitrogen leaching and balance in three long-term experiments. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 135, 268-278.
Corre-Hellou G, Dibet A, Hauggaard-Nielsen H, Crozat Y, Gooding M, Ambus P, Dahlmann C, von Fragstein P, Pristeri A, Monti M. 2011. The competitive ability of pea-barley intercrops against weeds and the interactions with crop productivity and soil N availability. Field Crops Research, 122, 264-272.
Dong Q, Yong T W, Liu X M, Liu W Y, Xu T, Song C, Wang X C, Yang W Y. 2014. Effect of nitrogen application methods on crop yield and grain filling characteristics of maize in maize-soybean relay strip intercropping system. Acta Agronomica Sinica, 40, 2028-2039. (in Chinese)
Drinkwater L E, Wagoner P, Sarrantonio M. 1998. Legume-based cropping systems have reduced carbon and nitrogen losses. Nature, 396, 262-265.
Fehr W R, Caviness C E, Burmood D T, Pennington J S. 1971. Stage of development descriptions for soybeans, Glycine Max (L.) Merrill. Crop Science, 11, 929-931.
Fernández-Escobar R, Benlloch M, Herrera E, Garc??a-Novelo J M. 2004. Effect of traditional and slow-release N fertilizers on growth of olive nursery plants and N losses by leaching. Scientia Horticulturae, 101, 39-49.
Gan Y, Stulen I, Posthumus F, Keulen H V, Kuiper P. 2002. Effects of N management on growth, N2 fixation and yield of soybean. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 62, 163-174.
Gao Y, Duan A, Qiu X, Sun J, Zhang J, Liu H, Wang H. 2010. Distribution and use efficiency of photosynthetically active radiation in strip intercropping of maize and soybean. Agronomy Journal, 102, 1149-1157.
Gaudin A C M, Janovicek K, Deen B, Hooker D C. 2015. Wheat improves nitrogen use efficiency of maize and soybean-based cropping systems. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 210, 1-10.
Ghanbari A, Dahmardeh M, Siahsar B A, Ramroudi M. 2010. Effect of maize (Zea mays L.)-cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) intercropping on light distribution, soil temperature and soil moisture in arid environment. Journal of Food Agriculture & Environment, 8, 102-108.
Ghosh P K, Manna M C, Bandyopadhyay K K, Ajay, Tripathi A K, Wanjari R H, Hati K M, Misra A K, Acharya C L, Rao A S. 2006. Interspecific interaction and nutrient use in soybean/sorghum intercropping system. Agronomy Journal, 98, 1097-1108.
Godfray H C J, Beddington J, Crute I, Haddad L, Lawrence D, Muir J F, Pretty J, Robinson S, Thomas S, Toulmin C. 2010. Food security: The challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science, 327, 812-818.
Guo J H, Liu X J, Zhang Y, Shen J L, Han W X, Zhang W F, Christie P, Goulding K W T, Vitousek P M, Zhang F S. 2010. Significant acidification in major Chinese croplands. Science, 327, 1008-1010.
Hauggaard-Nielsen H, Gooding M, Ambus P, Correhellou G, Crozat Y, Dahlmann C, Dibet A, Von F P, Pristeri A, Monti M. 2009. Pea-barley intercropping for efficient symbiotic N2-fixation, soil N acquisition and use of other nutrients in European organic cropping systems. Field Crops Research, 113, 64-71.
Hauggaard-Nielsen H, Jornsgaard B, Kinane J, Jensen E S. 2008. Grain legume-cereal intercropping: The practical application of diversity, competition and facilitation in arable and organic cropping systems. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 23, 3-12.
Hochman Z, Carberry P S, Robertson M J, Gaydon D S, Bell L W, Mcintosh P C. 2011. Prospects for ecological intensification of Australian agriculture. European Journal of Agronomy, 44, 109-123.
Hou Z, Li P, Li B, Gong J, Wang Y. 2006. Effects of fertigation scheme on N uptake and N use efficiency in cotton. Plant and Soil, 290, 115-126.
Ju C, Buresh R J, Wang Z, Zhang H, Liu L, Yang J, Zhang J. 2015. Root and shoot traits for rice varieties with higher grain yield and higher nitrogen use efficiency at lower nitrogen rates application. Field Crops Research, 175, 47-55.
Ju X T, Xing G X, Chen X P, Zhang S L, Zhang L J, Liu X J, Cui Z L, Yin B, Christie P, Zhu Z L. 2009. Reducing environmental risk by improving N management in intensive Chinese agricultural systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106, 3041-3046.
Kwong K F N K, Bholah A, Volcy L, Pynee K. 2002. Nitrogen and phosphorus transport by surface runoff from a silty clay loam soil under sugarcane in the humid tropical environment of Mauritius. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 91, 147-157.
Larson C. 2013. Losing arable land, china faces stark choice: Adapt or go hungry. Science, 339, 644.
Li B, Li Y, Wu H, Zhang F, Li C, Li X, Lambers H, Li L. 2016. Root exudates drive interspecific facilitation by enhancing nodulation and N2 fixation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113, 6496-6501.
Li H, Hu B, Chu C. 2017. Nitrogen use efficiency in crops: Lessons from Arabidopsis and rice. Journal of Experimental Botany, 68, 2477-2488.
Li L, Sun J, Zhang F, Guo T, Bao X, Smith F A, Smith S E. 2006. Root distribution and interactions between intercropped species. Oecologia, 147, 280-290.
Li L, Sun J H, Zhang F S, Li X L, Rengel Z, Yang S C. 2001. Wheat/maize or wheat/soybean strip intercropping. II. Recovery or compensation of maize and soybean after wheat harvesting. Field Crops Research, 71, 123-137.
Li L, Zhang F, Li X, Christie P, Sun J, Yang S, Tang C. 2003. Interspecific facilitation of nutrient uptake by intercropped maize and faba bean. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 65, 61-71.
Li Q Z, Sun J H, Wei X J, Christie P, Zhang F S. 2011. Overyielding and interspecific interactions mediated by nitrogen fertilization in strip intercropping of maize with faba bean, wheat and barley. Plant and Soil, 339, 147-161.
Liu C, Wang K, Meng S, Zheng X, Zhou Z, Han S, Chen D, Yang Z. 2011. Effects of irrigation, fertilization and crop straw management on nitrous oxide and nitric oxide emissions from a wheat-maize rotation field in northern China. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 140, 226-233.
Liu X, Rahman T, Yang F, Song C, Yong T, Liu J, Zhang C, Yang W. 2017. PAR interception and utilization in different maize and soybean intercropping patterns. PLoS ONE, 12, e0169218.
Meng L, Ding W, Cai Z. 2005. Long-term application of organic manure and nitrogen fertilizer on N2O emissions, soil quality and crop production in a sandy loam soil. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 37, 2037-2045.
La Menza N C, Monzon J P, Specht J E, Grassini P. 2017. Is soybean yield limited by nitrogen supply? Field Crops Research, 213, 204-212.
Nakamura R, Kachi N, Suzuki J I. 2008. Root growth and plant biomass in Lolium perenne exploring a nutrient-rich patch in soil. Journal of Plant Research, 121, 547-557.
Noellsch A, Motavalli P, Nelson K A, Kitchen N R. 2009. Corn response to conventional and slow-release nitrogen fertilizers across a claypan landscape. Agronomy Journal, 101, 607-614.
Oljaca S, Cvetkovic R, Kovacevic D, Vasic G, Momirovic N. 2000. Effect of plant arrangement pattern and irrigation on efficiency of maize (Zea mays) and bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) intercropping system. The Journal of Agricultural Science, 135, 261-270.
Osborne S, Riedell W. 2006. Starter nitrogen fertilizer impact on soybean yield and quality in the Northern Great Plains. Agronomy Journal, 98, 1569-1574.
Riley I T, Dilworth M J. 1985. Cobalt requirement for nodule development and function in Lupinus angustifolius L. New Phytologist, 100, 347-359.
Rodríguez-Navarro D N, Oliver I M, Contreras M A, Ruiz-Sainz J E. 2011. Soybean interactions with soil microbes, agronomical and molecular aspects. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 31, 173-190.
Ruan W B, Ren T, Chen Q, Zhu X, Wang J G. 2013. Effects of conventional and reduced N inputs on nematode communities and plant yield under intensive vegetable production. Applied Soil Ecology, 66, 48-55.
Salvagiotti F, Cassman K G, Specht J E, Walters D T, Weiss A, Dobermann A. 2008. Nitrogen uptake, fixation and response to fertilizer N in soybeans: A review. Field Crops Research, 108, 1-13.
Shoji S, Delgado J, Mosier A, Miura Y. 2001. Use of controlled release fertilizers and nitrification inhibitors to increase nitrogen use efficiency and to conserve air and water quality. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 32, 1051-1070.
Siczek A, Lipiec J. 2011. Soybean nodulation and nitrogen fixation in response to soil compaction and surface straw mulching. Soil and Tillage Research, 114, 50-56.
Stern W R. 1993. Nitrogen fixation and transfer in intercrop systems. Field Crops Research, 34, 335-356.
Thilakarathna M S, Mcelroy M S, Chapagain T, Papadopoulos Y A, Raizada M N. 2016. Belowground nitrogen transfer from legumes to non-legumes under managed herbaceous cropping systems. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 36, 58.
Tilman D, Balzer C, Hill J, Befort B L. 2011. Global food demand and the sustainable intensification of agriculture. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108, 20260-20264.
Wang X C, Deng X Y, Pu T, Song C, Yong T W, Yang F, Sun X, Liu W G, Yan Y H, Du J, Liu J, Su K, Yang W Y. 2017. Contribution of interspecific interactions and phosphorus application to increasing soil phosphorus availability in relay intercropping systems. Field Crops Research, 204, 12-22.
Wu B, Fullen M A, Li J, An T, Fan Z, Zhou F, Zi S, Yang Y, Xue G, Liu Z. 2014. Integrated response of intercropped maize and potatoes to heterogeneous nutrients and crop neighbours. Plant and Soil, 374, 185-196.
Xiang D B, Yong T W, Yang W Y, Wan Y, Gong W Z, Cui L, Lei T. 2012. Effect of phosphorus and potassium nutrition on growth and yield of soybean in relay strip intercropping system. Scientific Research and Essays, 7, 342-351.
Xiao Y, Li L, Zhang F. 2004. Effect of root contact on interspecific competition and N transfer between wheat and fababean using direct and indirect 15N techniques. Plant and Soil, 262, 45-54.
Xing G X, Zhu Z L. 2002. Regional nitrogen budgets for China and its major watersheds. Biogeochemistry, 57-58, 405-427.
Yan G, Zheng X, Cui F, Yao Z, Zhou Z, Deng J, Xu Y. 2013. Two-year simultaneous records of N2O and NO fluxes from a farmed cropland in the northern China plain with a reduced nitrogen addition rate by one-third. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 178, 39-50.
Yan Y H, Gong W Z, Yang W Y, Yan W, Chen X L, Chen Z Q, Wang L Y. 2010. Seed treatment with uniconazole powder improves soybean seedling growth under shading by corn in relay strip intercropping system. Plant Production Science 72, 367-374.
Yang F, Huang S, Gao R, Liu W, Yong T, Wang X, Wu X, Yang W. 2014. Growth of soybean seedlings in relay strip intercropping systems in relation to light quantity and
red:far-red ratio. Field Crops Research, 155, 245-253.
Yang F, Liao D, Wu X, Gao R, Fan Y, Raza M A, Wang X, Yong T, Liu W, Liu J, Du J, Shu K, Yang W. 2017. Effect of aboveground and belowground interactions on the intercrop yields in maize-soybean relay intercropping systems. Field Crops Research, 203, 16-23.
Yong T W, Liu X M, Feng Y, Song C, Wang X C, Liu W G, Su B Y, Li Z, Yang W Y. 2015. Characteristics of nitrogen uptake, use and transfer in a wheat-maize-soybean relay intercropping system. Plant Production Science, 18, 388-397.
Young E G, Conway C F. 1942. On the estimation of allantion by the rimini-schryver reaction. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 142, 839-853.
Yu P, Li X, White P J, Li C. 2015. A large and deep root system underlies high nitrogen-use efficiency in maize production. PLoS ONE, 10, e0126293.
Zhang F S, Long L. 2003. Using competitive and facilitative interactions in intercropping systems enhances crop productivity and nutrient-use efficiency. Plant and Soil, 248, 305-312.
Zhang G, Yang Z, Dong S. 2011. Interspecific competitiveness affects the total biomass yield in an alfalfa and corn intercropping system. Field Crops Research, 124, 66-73.
Zhang W, Dou Z, He P, Ju X T, Powlson D, Chadwick D, Norse D, Lu Y L, Zhang Y, Wu L. 2013. New technologies reduce greenhouse gas emissions from nitrogenous fertilizer in China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110, 8375-8380.
Zhao S, Qiu S, Cao C, Zheng C, Zhou W, He P. 2014. Responses of soil properties, microbial community and crop yields to various rates of nitrogen fertilization in a wheat-maize cropping system in north-central China. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 194, 29-37.
Zhao X, Zhou Y, Min J, Wang S, Shi W, Xing G. 2012. Nitrogen runoff dominates water nitrogen pollution from rice-wheat rotation in the Taihu Lake region of China. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 156, 1-11.
Zhou L. 2017. Grain production and food security in China. In: Zhou L, ed., Reform and Development of Agriculture in China. Springer, Singapore. pp. 141-169.
Zhu Z L, Chen D L. 2002. Nitrogen fertilizer use in China - Contributions to food production, impacts on the environment and best management strategies. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 63, 117-127.
Zuo Y, Zhang Z, Liu C, Zhang W. 2015. Achieving food security and high production of bioenergy crops through intercropping with efficient resource use in China. Frontiers of Agricultural Science & Engineering, 2, 134-143.