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Home>FFTC Document Database>Extension Bulletins>NITROGEN USE EFFICIENCY OF THE LONG-TERM CROP ROTATION SYSTEM IN TAIWAN
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Ren Shih Chung1, Shun-Fa
Tai2, Chiu Shyoung Lo3, Chong-Ho
Wang4

1Department of Agricultural Chemistry,
National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

2Kaohsiung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station,
Kaohsiung, Taiwan, ROC
3Taoyuan District Agricultural Research and Extension Station,
Kaohsiung, Taiwan, ROC

4Department of Plant Industry,
National Pintung University of Science and Technology,
Pintung, Taiwan, ROC

Abstract

Nitrogen (N) is probably the most important mineral nutrient of plants, because it is the leading factor of nutrient uptake and is the constituent of important organic compounds, which controls the growth and development of the plant. Excessive N application not only resulted in excessive vegetative growth and poor yield but also resulted in pollution of surface water and ground water. In fertilizer manufacturing, Nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing consumes the highest amount of energy among all fertilizers. Therefore, adequate application of N fertilizer is important. There are some long-term studies to investigate the effect of different fertilizers, crop rotation systems, different crops on the N use efficiencies in Taiwan. The N use efficiency varies depending on crops, seasons, and types of fertilizers. In general, the N use efficiencies of grain crops are higher than that of vegetables. There are great differences in N use efficiencies among different kinds of vegetables.

Key words: Nitrogen use efficiency, physiological efficiency, apparent N recovery, rice, corn, vegetables.

Introduction

In intensive agricultural systems, nitrogen (N) is the most essential element in determining the yield potential of crops, and fertilizer N is one of the major inputs to agricultural systems (Lowlor, 2002). During the last half century, fertilizer application experiments have been conducted for most of crops cultivated in Taiwan and a fertilizer application manual has been published. In addition, there were seven editions of the manual. There were 122 crops included in the latest edition of this fertilizer application manual.

Among the different crops cultivated in Taiwan, rice is the most important. At present, the cultivated area for rice is about 240,000 ha and the largest cultivated area for this crop reached about 790,000 ha in 1975. From then on the cultivated area of rice decreased continuously. Vegetables and fruits are other important crops of Taiwan. The total cultivated area for vegetables and fruits are 150,000 and 200,000 ha., respectively.

One of the reasons for increased crop production over the last 50 years was largely attributed to the increased application rate of fertilizers. Among them, N is the most important. Most farmers are accustomed to apply excessive fertilizers, therefore, there are still adequate fertilization experiments conducted in Taiwan. Owing to climatic conditions, crops can be cultivated whole-year round. For rice plant cultivation, double crops of rice, rice-upland crops, or upland crops-rice plant cultivation systems are practiced in Taiwan. There are some long-term studies to investigate the effect of different fertilizers, crop rotation systems, different crops and the N use efficiencies in Taiwan.

Nitrogen use efficiencies of rice, corn and vegetables under different cropping system at Kaoshiung, south of Taiwan

A long-term study was initiated in 1988 in the Chinan Branch Station (22.86o N, 120.51oE), Kaohsiung District Agricultural Improvement Station. The experiment comprised of two cropping sequences with three different long-term fertilization management. Rotation system I is the conventional rotation practice in this area and the rotation system II is the suggested system by the experts of the Experimental Station. The three different fertilization treatments were: application of organic fertilizer (Organic-F treatment) only, application of chemical fertilizer (Conventional-F treatment) only and a combined application of organic and chemical fertilizers, of which half the N was from organic fertilizer and the other half was from chemical fertilizer (Mixed-F treatment), respectively. No extra P or K fertilizers were applied to the Organic-F or Mixed-F treatments. The plot size for each treatment was 0.1 ha, with no replication. Chemical fertilizer was applied according to the recommendation for the crops grown in this area. The N application rates of Conventional-F treatment in rotation system I for asparagus lettuce, corn, and rice were 255, 180, and 120 kg N/ha, respectively. The N application rates of Conventional-F treatment in rotation system II for corn and rice were 180, and 120 kg N/ha, respectively. The application rate of organic fertilizer was based on the assumption that 50% of the N in the organic fertilizer would become available to plants during the growing season. Therefore the total amount of N applied to the Organic-F treatment was two times that of the Conventional-F treatment. Each corresponding treatment was kept constant for each crop. The cropping sequences (rotation system I and rotation system II) are shown in Table 1.

No unfertilized treatment was set in this study, therefore, fertilizer N recovery and agronomic efficiency were not obtained. The total dry matter (including root) and edible part, total N uptake, N in edible part, N use efficiency, physiological efficiency and N harvest index during 1998 autumn to 2000 spring are shown in Table 2 and Table 3. The physiological efficiencies of N is in terms of plant dry matter production per unit N absorbed (dry matter produced per unit N uptake) (Ohnishia et al., 1999). Iyengar and Shivananda (1992) defined nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) as total dry weight produced divided by the total nitrogen uptake and physiological efficiency (PE) as total dry weight of edible part produced divided by total nitrogen uptake. These definitions are used here.

After continuous practice of the same cultivation for ten years, there was no significant difference in yield, N harvest index, N use efficiency, or physiological efficiency among different treatments. However, different crops of corn differed in N translocated efficiency. The translocated efficiency means the ratio of translocated N to the grain after heading to total whole plant N at maturity (Delogu et al., 1998). The N translocated efficiency for sweet corn was very low compared with vegetable corn or rice. Different crops also differed in N harvest index: the rice was the highest and the sweet corn was the lowest. However, Ohnishia et al. (1999) showed that the physiological efficiencies were not significantly different among various N and water management treatments in 2 years of rice.

In the rotation system II, only the corn and rice plant were cultivated: one crop of vegetable corn and three crops of rice were cultivated. The total dry matter yield of 1999 autumn crop vegetable corn was one half that of 1998 spring crop of rotation system I. However, there was no difference in grain yield. The physiological efficiency, transported efficiency, and N harvest index of the 1999 autumn crop vegetable corn were higher than those of 1998 spring crop. The grain yield and physiological efficiency of Organic-F treatment was higher than those of the other treatments. There were differences in total dry matter yield, total N uptake, grain N, N use efficiency, physiological efficiency, transported efficiency, and N harvest index in different crops of rice. These could be attributed to the effect of climatic condition. The grain yield of Conventional-F in 1999 was higher than that of Organic-F treatment. However, no difference in grain yield was observed in both 1990 and 2000 crops. There was no consistent effect of treatments on the N use efficiency, physiological efficiency, transported efficiency, and N harvest index among different fertilizer treatments.

Mae and Shoji (1984) showed that the proportion of panicle N derived form that absorbed during the grain filling period (translocated efficiency) was not so high, i.e. 0.10-030 kg/kg of total panicle N in the field-grown rice. In this study, The translocated efficiency of rice was as high as 0.50 kg/kg. However, the translocated efficiency of vegetables was low compared with the rice (Table 2 and Table 3).

Nitrogen use efficiencies of vegetables and rice rotation system under application of different kinds and rates organic fertilizers at Kaoshiung, south of Taiwan

The rotation was set up to study the effect of different kinds and rates of organic fertilizer under the rotation system of spring rice-summer green manure-autumn vegetables for six years. In the application rate experiment, the 1X treatment means the same rate of N as chemical fertilizer treatment (Chem-F treatment) was applied, and 2X treatment means two times of N rate as Chem-F treatment. The N application rates of Chem-F treatment for cabbage, kohlrabi, and rice were 150, 120, and 120 kg N/ha, respectively. The different kinds of organic materials used were farm-yard manure (Farm-M), hog dung compost (Hog-M), seed meal (Seed-M), and cattle dung compost (Cattle-M). The N application rate of Farm-M, Hog-M, Seed-M and Cattle-M was two times of Chem-F treatment. The locations of the individual research plots and their respective treatments remained unchanged during the 6-year period. The results of the fifth year were shown in Table 4 and Table 5.

Table 4 shows that no fertilization (CK treatment) resulted in low yield, low N uptake, and low N harvest index, however, high N use efficiency for cabbage and rice. Farm-yard-manure (FYM) and cattle dung compost (Cattle-M) resulted in higher yield and N harvest index of cabbage. Chemical fertilizer treatment (Chem-F) had the highest amount of N uptake and N use efficiency. Application of cattle dung compost also resulted in higher N uptake and higher N use efficiency compared with the other organic matter treatments. The difference in N harvest index of various fertilizer treatments was small.

Hog dung compost (Hog-M) had the highest grain production, the highest amount of N uptake, and N use efficiency of rice among various treatments. Except for Hog-M (hog dung compost) treatment, the N use efficiency was low compared with Chem-F treatment.

Table 5 shows that 2-3 times of N rate as Chem-N treatment resulted in the same amount of yield as Chem-N treatment. However, lower N use efficiency was noted in different rates of organic fertilizer treatments. Except for 4X treatment, the amount of N in the edible part increased with increasing in application rates of organic fertilizer.

The apparent N recovery (or fertilizer N recovery efficiency, or recovery efficiency) was defined as the ratio of difference of N uptake between treatment and without fertilization to applied N (Delogu et al., 1998; Ohnishia et al., 1999). Table 4 shows that the apparent N recovery of organic fertilizer treatments was low compared with the chemical fertilizer treatment (Chem-F) except for the hog dung compost-treated rice, which was higher than that of chemical fertilizer-treated one.

The apparent N recovery of organic matter decreased with increasing the application rates (Table 5) for both vegetables and rice.

Nitrogen use efficiencies of rice and corn under rice-corn rotation system at Taichung, central Taiwan

A long-term study to investigate the effect of different organic matter on the yield of crops under rice-corn rotation system was initiated in 1996. The field study was conducted at the experimental farm of the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, (TARI), in the central Taiwan. The organic matters used in this study were compost (Comp), green manure (GM), and peat (Peat). The Chem-N treatment was conventional application of chemical fertilizer according to the recommendation of Experimental Station. The Comp + 1/3N and Comp + 2/3 N treatments were applied the same amount of Comp N and additional one-third or two thirds of N as Chem-N treatment, respectively. The GM + 1/3N and Peat + 1/3N treatments were green manure and peat with the same amount of Comp N and additional one-third of N as Chem-N treatment. Paddy rice-upland rotation system is a popular cultivation system. In this study, rice-corn rotation system was used. No any fertilizer was applied in CK treatment. The N application rates of Chem-N and Comp treatments for rice and corn were 120 and 140 kg N/ha, respectively. Each corresponding treatment was kept constant for each crop. The results from 1996 to 2001 are shown in Table 6, Table 7, Table 8 and Table 9.

In the first crop of corn, the total dry matter yield, grain yield, and N uptake of no fertilization (CK treatment), Comp, and Comp + 1/3 treatments were lower than those of the other treatments. These results indicated that application of compost with N rate equaling to Chem-N treatment and additional one-third of N as Chem-N treatment could not meet the requirement of corn for growth. Therefore, the apparent N recovery was low in Comp and Comp + 1/3 N treatments compared with the other treatments. The apparent N recovery in Comp + 1/3 N, GM + 1/3 N, and Peat + 1/3 N treatments were lower than that of Chem-N treatment (Table 6). Compared with Chem-N treatment, the apparent N recovery of Comp + 2/3 N, GM +1/3 N, and Peat + 1/3 N treatments were low. The N harvest index was the lowest at the first crop of corn and about 0.60 kg per one kilogram of N absorbed after the second year of cultivation. The apparent N recovery for different organic matter treatments also increased after the second year. However, it was lower than that of Chem-N treatment (Table 7).

The total dry weight of a rice crop under favorable conditions is around 10-20 t/ha (Mac, 1997). Table 8 and Table 9 show that the total dry matter yield of rice is around 10-20 t/ha (including root). For rice production, the effect of no fertilization (CK treatment) on yield was smaller than that of corn. In the first year, the dry matter production of CK treatment was higher than that of Comp, GM + 1/3 N, and Peat +1/3 N treatments. It could be attributed to the low availability of N in the organic matter. The Comp and Peat +1/3 N treatments showed negative apparent N recovery in 1996 spring crop (Table 8). It is also known that the paddy rice production is less affected by the supply of nutrients compared to upland crops. The N use efficiency, physiological efficiency, apparent N recovery of different treatments differed in different years and organic matters applied. Chemical fertilizer and green treatment resulted in higher apparent N recovery than compost and peat, which could be attributed to the easy availability in N of the former. The N harvest indexes were less affected by the different treatment (Table 9).

Low apparent N recovery is thought to be a major constraint to achieving higher rice yields. Vlek and Byrnes (1986) stated that flooded rice generally recovered 20-40% of applied N, whereas upland crops normally recovered about 40-60%.

The N use efficiencies of different organic fertilizers for vegetables—A green house study at Taoyuan, northern Taiwan

An experiment was conducted in a greenhouse in Taoyuan District Agricultural Research and Extension Station, located in Taoyuan in northern Taiwan. The experiment was carried out between April 2000 and July 2004 (a total of 26 crops of vegetable were cultivated). The treatments used five kinds of organic fertilizers (dairy cattle dung compost, DCDC, hog dung compost; HDC, chicken dung compost, CDC; pea residue compost, PRC; and soybean meal, SBM) continuously and one treatment in terms of applying the five kinds of commercial organic fertilizers as mentioned above (S. Apply). The N application rate of DCDC, HDC, and PRC treatments were two times of the recommendation rate of conventional farming and that CDC and SBM were 1.2 times bigger than the recommendation rate of conventional farming. The recommendation rate of Pak-choi, lettuce, water spinach, Chinese mustard, spinach, borecole, crown daisy, and amaranth were 180, 150, 150, 220, 180, 220, 145 and 210 kg N/ha, respectively. The locations of the individual research plots and their respective treatments remained unchanged during the four-year period. There were no applying chemical fertilizer and without fertilization treatments. Therefore, no apparent N recovery fraction was obtained. However, N absorption efficiency and physiological efficiency were calculated. The fertilizer-N absorption efficiency was defined as the ratio of total amount of N absorbed to the amount of N applied (Harmsen and Moraghan, 1988; Tanaka et al., 1984).

Table 10, Table 11, Table 12, and Table 13 indicated that there were great difference in different vegetable yield, N uptake, N absorption efficiency, which were due to the characteristics of the vegetables. Different organic matters resulted in different N absorption efficiency significantly and the N absorption efficiency was low. In some crops, the N absorption efficiency was less than 0.05 kg/kg.

Conclusion

Crops differ in their N use efficiency, physiological efficiency, translocated efficiency, harvest index, and apparent N recovery. The kinds of fertilizers differed in their N use efficiency, physiological efficiency, translocated efficiency, harvest index, and apparent N recovery when they were applied to

the same crop. The physiological efficiency and N absorption efficiency of vegetables were low compared with the rice and corn. The physiological efficiency and N absorption efficiency of the sweet corn and vegetable corn were also low compared with the rice and corn. The physiological efficiency of rice was higher than that of corn. However, the apparent N recovery of corn was higher than that of rice.

References

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  • Greenwood D. J., K. I. Kubo, I. G. Burns and A. Draycott. 1989. Apparent recovery of fertilizer N by vegetable crops. Soil Sci. Plant Nutr., 35: 367-381.
  • Harmsen, K., and J.T. Moraghan. 1988. A comparison of the isotope recovery and difference methods for determining nitrogen fertilizer efficiency. Plant Soil 105: 55-67.
  • Iynegar B K V, Shivananda TN.. 1992. Fertilizer nitrogen uptake and utilization efficiency in vegetables. J. Indian Soc. Soil Sci. 40: 469-473.
  • Lawlor DW. 2002. Carbon and nitrogen assimilation in relation to yield: Mechanisms are the key to understanding production systems. J. Exp. Bot. 53: 773-787.
  • Mae, T, Shoji S. 1984. Studies on the rate of fertilizer nitrogen in rice plants and paddy soils by using 15N as a tracer in northeastern Japan. In Soil Science and Plant Nutrition in Northeastern Japan (Special issue). pp. 77-94. Northeastern Section of the Japanese Society of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, Sendai, Japan.)
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  • Ohnishia M, Horiea T, Hommaa K, Supapojb N, Takanoa H, Yamamotoa S. 1999. Nitrogen management and cultivar effects on rice yield and nitrogen use efficiency in Northeast Thailand. Field Crops Res. 64: 109-120.
  • Tanaka A, Yamaguchi J, Miura S, Tamaru H. 1984. Comparison of fertilizer nitrogen efficiency among field crops. Soil Sci. Plant Nutr. 30: 199-208.
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Index of Images

  • Table 1 Cropping system and their cultivated crops.

    Table 1 Cropping system and their cultivated crops.

  • Table 2 Yield and N use efficiency of different crops under rotation system I at Kaoshiung.

    Table 2 Yield and N use efficiency of different crops under rotation system I at Kaoshiung.

  • Table 3 Yield and N use efficiency of different crops under rotation system II at Kaoshiung.

    Table 3 Yield and N use efficiency of different crops under rotation system II at Kaoshiung.

  • Table 4 Yield, N use efficiency, apparent N use efficiency and N harvest index of different crops under different organic fertilizer at Kaoshiung.

    Table 4 Yield, N use efficiency, apparent N use efficiency and N harvest index of different crops under different organic fertilizer at Kaoshiung.

  • Table 5 Yield, N use efficiency, apparent N use efficiency and N harvest index of different crops under different rates of organic fertilizer at Kaoshiung.

    Table 5 Yield, N use efficiency, apparent N use efficiency and N harvest index of different crops under different rates of organic fertilizer at Kaoshiung.

  • Table 6 Yield, N use efficiency, apparent N use efficiency and N harvest index of corn under rice-corn rotation system with application of different organic matters at Taichung.

    Table 6 Yield, N use efficiency, apparent N use efficiency and N harvest index of corn under rice-corn rotation system with application of different organic matters at Taichung.

  • Table 7 Yield, N use efficiency, apparent N use efficiency and N harvest index of corn under rice-corn rotation system with application of different organic matters at Taichung.

    Table 7 Yield, N use efficiency, apparent N use efficiency and N harvest index of corn under rice-corn rotation system with application of different organic matters at Taichung.

  • Table 8 Yield, N use efficiency, apparent N use efficiency and N harvest index of rice under rice-corn rotation system with application of different organic matters at Taichung.

    Table 8 Yield, N use efficiency, apparent N use efficiency and N harvest index of rice under rice-corn rotation system with application of different organic matters at Taichung.

  • Table 9 Yield, N use efficiency, apparent N use efficiency and N harvest index of rice under rice-corn rotation system with application of different organic matters at Taichung.

    Table 9 Yield, N use efficiency, apparent N use efficiency and N harvest index of rice under rice-corn rotation system with application of different organic matters at Taichung.

  • Table 10 Yield, N use efficiency, and physiological efficiency of different vegetables under different organic fertilizers at Taoyuan.

    Table 10 Yield, N use efficiency, and physiological efficiency of different vegetables under different organic fertilizers at Taoyuan.

  • Table 11 Yield, N use efficiency, and physiological efficiency of different vegetables under different organic fertilizers at Taoyuan.

    Table 11 Yield, N use efficiency, and physiological efficiency of different vegetables under different organic fertilizers at Taoyuan.

  • Table 12 Yield, N use efficiency, and physiological efficiency of different vegetables under different organic fertilizers at Taoyuan.

    Table 12 Yield, N use efficiency, and physiological efficiency of different vegetables under different organic fertilizers at Taoyuan.

  • Table 13 Yield, N use efficiency, and physiological efficiency of different vegetables under different organic fertilizers at Taoyuan.

    Table 13 Yield, N use efficiency, and physiological efficiency of different vegetables under different organic fertilizers at Taoyuan.

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