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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2018, Vol. 17 Issue (06): 1421-1431    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(17)61899-9
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Reducing nitrogen fertilization of intensive kiwifruit orchards decreases nitrate accumulation in soil without compromising crop production
LU Yong-li1, 2, KANG Ting-ting1, GAO Jing-bo1, CHEN Zhu-jun1, ZHOU Jian-bin1 
1 College of Natural Resources and Environment, Northwest A&F University/Key Laboratory of Plant Nutrition and the Agri-Environment in Northwest China, Ministry of Agriculture, Yangling 712100, P.R.China
2 College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou 730070, P.R.China
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Excessive nitrogen (N) fertilization of high value horticultural crops is a common problem that not only increases the cost to farmers, but also negatively affects crop growth and the environment.  A three-year field experiment was conducted in an intensive kiwifruit orchard in Shaanxi Province, China to compare the effects of reduced N fertilization applied as urea (U), and controlled release urea (CRU) on the N nutrition of kiwi vines, fruit yield and quality, and nitrate-N accumulation in the soil profile.  The three treatments included a conventional N application rate (CF-U, 900 kg N ha–1 yr–1 as urea), two reduced N fertilization treatments where the amount of N fertilizer applied as U and CRU was reduced by 25% in 2013 and 2014, and by 45% in 2015.  The 25 and 45% reduced N treatments had no adverse effects on the N concentrations in leaves and pruning branches and the fruit yield and quality of kiwi vines.  However, they significantly enhanced the partial factor productivity of applied N (PFPN) and the economic benefits, and reduced nitrate accumulation in the 0–200 cm soil profile.  The same benefits of reduced N fertilization were observed for both the U and CRU treatments, but the CRU treatment had the added benefit of decreasing the loss of nitrate through leaching.  We concluded that the current level of N fertilization in kiwi orchards is very excessive, and reducing the N fertilizer rate by 25–45% could not only guarantee fruit yield, but also reduce N accumulation and loss.
Keywords:  kiwifruit orchard        fruit yield and quality        nitrate accumulation        controlled release urea (CRU)  
Received: 28 August 2017   Accepted: 05 June 2018
Fund: This work was supported by the National Key Technologies R&D Program of China during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2012BAD15B04), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31372137, 41671295), and the project jointly supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) of UK and the Ministry of Agriculture of China under the Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (SAIN).
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence ZHOU Jian-bin, E-mail:   

Cite this article: 

LU Yong-li, KANG Ting-ting, GAO Jing-bo, CHEN Zhu-jun, ZHOU Jian-bin. 2018. Reducing nitrogen fertilization of intensive kiwifruit orchards decreases nitrate accumulation in soil without compromising crop production. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 17(06): 1421-1431.

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