Crop nitrogen use and soil mineral nitrogen accumulation under different crop combinations and patterns of strip intercropping in northwest China

C.J. Li, Y.Y. Li, C.B. Yu, J.H. Sun, P. Christie, Min An, F.S. Zhang, L Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Increasing crop nitrogen use efficiency while also simultaneously decreasing nitrogen accumulation in the soil would be key steps in controlling nitrogen pollution from agricultural systems. Long-term field experiments were started in 2003 to study the effects of intercropping on crop N use and soil mineral N accumulation in wheat (Triticum aestivum L. cv2014)/maize (Zea mays L. cv Shendan16), wheat/faba bean (Vicia faba L. cv Lincan No. 5) and maize/faba bean intercropping and monocropping systems. Monocropping was compared with two types of strip intercropping: continuous intercropping (two cropsintercropped continuously on the same strips of land every year) and rotational intercropping (two crops grown adjacently and rotated to the other crop's strip every year). Maize/faba bean intercropping had greater crop N uptake than did wheat/faba bean or wheat/maize. Wheat/maize accumulated more mineral N in the top 140 cm of the soil profile during the co-growth stage from maize emergence to maturity of wheat or faba bean. Continuously intercropped maize substantially decreased soil mineral N accumulation under wheat and faba bean rows (60'100 cm soil depth) at maize harvest. Soil mineral N accumulationunder wheat rows increased with rotational intercropping with faba bean. Rotational intercrop- ping may potentially alleviate the adverse effects of wheat on N use by other crops and increase the nitrogen harvest index of wheat, maize and faba bean. Intercropping using species with different maturity dates may be more effective in increasing crop N use efficiency and decreasing soil mineral N accumulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-231
Number of pages11
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume342
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

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