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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2018, Vol. 17 Issue (12): 2648-2661    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(18)62086-6
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Postponed and reduced basal nitrogen application improves nitrogen use efficiency and plant growth of winter wheat
TIAN Zhong-wei, LIU Xiao-xue, GU Shi-lu, YU Jin-hong, ZHANG Lei, ZHANG Wei-wei, JIANG Dong, CAO Wei-xing, DAI Ting-bo
Key Laboratory of Crop Physiology Ecology and Production Management, Ministry of Agriculture/College of Agriculture, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, P.R.China
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Abstract  
Excessive nitrogen (N) fertilization with a high basal N ratio in wheat can result in lower N use efficiency (NUE) and has led to environmental problems in the Yangtze River Basin, China.  However, wheat requires less N fertilizer at seedling growth stage, and its basal N fertilizer utilization efficiency is relatively low; therefore, reducing the N application rate at the seedling stage and postponing the N fertilization period may be effective for reducing N application and increasing wheat yield and NUE.  A 4-year field experiment was conducted with two cultivars under four N rates (240 kg N ha–1 (N240),
180 kg N ha–1 (N180), 150 kg N ha–1 (N150), and 0 kg N ha–1 (N0)) and three basal N application stages (seeding (L0), four-leaf stage (L4), and six-leaf stage (L6)) to investigate the effects of reducing the basal N application rate and postponing the basal N fertilization period on grain yield, NUE, and N balance in a soil-wheat system.  There was no significant difference in grain yield between the N180L4 and N240L0 (control) treatments, and the maximum N recovery efficiency and N agronomy efficiency were observed in the N180L4 treatment.  Grain yield and NUE were the highest in the L4 treatment.  The leaf area index, flag leaf photosynthesis rate, flag leaf nitrate reductase and glutamine synthase activities, dry matter accumulation, and N uptake post-jointing under N180L4 did not differ significantly from those under N240L0.  Reduced N application decreased the inorganic N content in the 0–60-cm soil layer, and the inorganic N content of the L6 treatment was higher than those of the L0 and L4 treatments at the same N level.  Surplus N was low under the reduced N rates and delayed basal N application treatments.  Therefore, postponing and reducing basal N fertilization could maintain a high yield and improve NUE by improving the photosynthetic production capacity, promoting N uptake and assimilation, and reducing surplus N in soil-wheat systems.
Keywords:  basal nitrogen application stage        grain yield        nitrogen deficiency        nitrogen use efficiency        soil nitrogen balance        wheat  
Received: 26 March 2018   Accepted:
Fund: We appreciate the generous financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31471443, 31501262), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, China (KJQN201632), and the Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center for Modern Crop Production, Nanjing Agricultural University.
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence DAI Ting-bo, Tel: +86-25-84395033,Fax: +86-25-84396302, E-mail: tingbod@njau.edu.cn   
About author:  TIAN Zhong-wei, Tel: +86-25-84399623, E-mail: zhwtian@njau.edu.cn;

Cite this article: 

TIAN Zhong-wei, LIU Xiao-xue, GU Shi-lu, YU Jin-hong, ZHANG Lei, ZHANG Wei-wei, JIANG Dong, CAO Wei-xing, DAI Ting-bo. 2018. Postponed and reduced basal nitrogen application improves nitrogen use efficiency and plant growth of winter wheat. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 17(12): 2648-2661.

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