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Effect of nitrogen availability on dry matter production, nitrogen uptake and light interception of Brussels sprouts and leeks

Effect of nitrogen availability on dry matter production, nitrogen uptake and light interception of Brussels sprouts and leeks

Netherlands Journal of Agricultural Science 44(1): 3-19

To analyse differences in nitrogen utilisation, field experiments with Brussels sprouts and leeks were carried out. Dry matter production and nitrogen uptake during crop growth were studied at different nitrogen application rates. Nitrogen fertilizer application rate stronger affected dry matter production, leaf area expansion and nitrogen uptake in Brussels sprouts than in leeks. When applying all nitrogen before transplanting, Brussels sprouts showed a higher recovery of nitrogen fertilizer than leeks. This was explained by a higher rate of dry matter production of Brussels sprouts, as a consequence of a faster development of leaf area. A late nitrogen application, whether as a part of a split application or not, increased nitrogen uptake stronger than dry matter production, so that tissue nitrogen concentrations increased. The relationship between nitrogen uptake and dry matter production depended on nitrogen availability and the crop growth stage, and if all nitrogen was applied before transplanting, the relationship could be described by an asymptotic function. Plasticity of the plants allowed 'luxury consumption' of nitrogen taking place when the availability was ample and 'dilution' of nitrogen when shortage of nitrogen developed during later growth stages. This implies an increasing tissue nitrogen concentration with increasing nitrogen application and a decreasing nitrogen concentration with increasing age. To achieve a near-maximum dry matter production at any time, the nitrogen concentration in the dry matter should be kept on 2.8-3.1% during the whole growing period for Brussels sprouts as well as for leeks. On the other hand a minimum concentration of 1.2-1.5% in the dry matter was found that still allowed growth in Brussels sprouts. In both. crops nitrogen uptake increased linearly with leaf area index until maximum leaf area (LAI=4-5) was reached and this relationship was neither affected by nitrogen application rate nor by the experimental year. Irrespective of nitrogen application rate or species 2.3 g above around biomass per MJ intercepted radiation was produced. Therefore measurement of radiation interception by the canopy can be used as a tool to estimate the nitrogen status of the crop.

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