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Irrigation and Nitrogen Regimes Promote the Use of Soil Water and Nitrate Nitrogen from Deep Soil Layers by Regulating Root Growth in Wheat

Irrigation and Nitrogen Regimes Promote the Use of Soil Water and Nitrate Nitrogen from Deep Soil Layers by Regulating Root Growth in Wheat

Frontiers in Plant Science 9: 32

Unreasonably high irrigation levels and excessive nitrogen (N) supplementation are common occurrences in the North China Plain that affect winter wheat production. Therefore, a 6-yr-long stationary field experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of irrigation and N regimes on root development and their relationship with soil water and N use in different soil layers. Compared to the non-irrigated treatment (W0), a single irrigation at jointing (W1) significantly increased yield by 3.6-45.6%. With increases in water (W2, a second irrigation at flowering), grain yield was significantly improved by 14.1-45.3% compared to the W1 treatments during the drier growing seasons (2010-2011, 2012-2013, and 2015-2016). However, under sufficient pre-sowing soil moisture conditions, grain yield was not increased, and water use efficiency (WUE) decreased significantly in the W2 treatments during normal precipitation seasons (2011-2012, 2013-2014, and 2014-2015). Irrigating the soil twice inhibited root growth into the deeper soil depth profiles and thus weakened the utilization of soil water and NO3-N from the deep soil layers. N applications increased yield by 19.1-64.5%, with a corresponding increase in WUE of 66.9-83.9% compared to the no-N treatment (N0). However, there was no further increase in grain yield and the WUE response when N rates exceeded 240 and 180 kg N ha-1, respectively. A N application rate of 240 kg ha-1 facilitated root growth in the deep soil layers, which was conducive to utilization of soil water and NO3-N and also in reducing the residual NO3-N. Correlation analysis indicated that the grain yield was significantly positively correlated with soil water storage (SWS) and nitrate nitrogen accumulation (SNA) prior to sowing. Therefore, N rates of 180-240 kg ha-1 with two irrigations can reduce the risk of yield loss that occurs due to reduced precipitation during the wheat growing seasons, while under better soil moisture conditions, a single irrigation at jointing was effective and more economical.

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Accession: 065261037

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PMID: 29449850

DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00032

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