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Xinjiang Institute finds way to improve nitrogen supply

Aug '19
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
Scientists from the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed an efficient fertilizer application method called urea side drilling in mud (SDM) which increases nitrate-N availability in cotton root zone by reducing leaching loss, thus maximising uptake and nitrogen use efficiency in sandy soils.

The study has been published in Agricultural Water Management. Nitrate-N leaching is high in sandy soils. Nitrate-N can drain out of the root zone in a matter of days. This leached nitrate-N can reach the aquifer within months, affecting the quality of ground water.

SDM is a modification of the conventional top dressing (CTD) technique in which urea is side-drilled in a sludge of sand soon after the infiltration of applied water, rather than applying prior irrigation, because, in muddy condition, an ample quantity of water remains available to dissolve the applied urea. Thus, SDM can enhance nitrate-N availability in cotton root zone by reducing leaching loss, and maximise uptake and nitrogen use efficiency in sandy soils.

Cotton is an important oilseed and fibre crop which grows well in well-drained soil. In Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, cotton is cultivated is a widespread region. However, most of it grows in coarse textured aeolian sandy soils with high water infiltration potential around the Taklamakan Desert.

The research has found the best possible nitrogen application method for cotton that would reduce leaching and improve nitrogen recovery efficiency in sandy soils under flood/furrow irrigated conditions through evaluating the growth and yield attributes of cotton on sandy soil. It could be beneficial for nitrogen leaching losses management in cotton and other crops grown on sandy soils under conventional flood or furrow irrigated conditions. (SV)

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