Nitrogen fertilizer in leucaena alley cropping. I. Maize response to nitrogen fertilizer and fate of fertilizer-15N

Xu, Z.; Saffigna, P.; Myers, R.; Chapman, A.

Fertilizer research 3(3): 219-227

1992


DOI: 10.1007/bf01050877
Accession: 013163576

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Abstract
Field microplot experiments were conducted in the semi-arid tropics of northern Australia to evaluate the response of maize (Zea mays L.) growth to addition of N fertilizer and plant residues and to examine the fate of fertilizer 15N in a leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala) alley cropping system, in which supplemental irrigation was used. Leucaena prunings, maize residues and N fertilizer were applied to alley-cropped maize grown in microplots which were installed in the alleys formed by leucaena hedgerows spaced 4.5 metres apart. The 15N-labelled fertilizer was used to examine the fate of fertilizer N applied in the presence of mulched leucaena prunings and maize residues. Application of leucaena prunings increased maize yield while addition of N fertilizer in the presence of the prunings produced a further increase in maize production. There was a significant positive interaction between N fertilizer and leucaena prunings in increasing maize production. The addition of maize residues in the presence of N fertilizer and leucaena prunings decreased maize yield and N uptake and increased fertilizer 15N loss from 38% to 47%. Maize recovered 24-79% of fertilizer 15N in one cropping season, depending on application rate of N fertilizer and field management of plant residues. About 20-34% of fertilizer 15N remained in the soil. More than 37% of fertilizer 15N was apparently lost from the soil and plant system largely through denitrification when N fertilizer was applied at 40 kg N ha-1 or more in the presence or absence of plant residues. Application of N fertilizer improved maize yield and increased the contribution of mulched leucaena prunings to crop production in the alley cropping system.

Nitrogen fertilizer in leucaena alley cropping. I. Maize response to nitrogen fertilizer and fate of fertilizer-15N