Increased plant density of winter wheat can enhance nitrogen-uptake from deep soil

Dai, Xinglong; Xiao, Lili; Jia, Dianyong; Kong, Haibo; Wang, Yuechao; Li, Chuanxing; Zhang, Yu; He, Mingrong
November 2014
Plant & Soil;Nov2014, Vol. 384 Issue 1/2, p141
Academic Journal
Background and Aims: Increased plant density improves grain yield and nitrogen (N)-use efficiency in winter wheat ( Triticum aestivum L.) by increasing the root length density (RLD) in the soil and aboveground N-uptake (AGN) at maturity. However, how the root distribution and N-uptake at different soil depths is affected by plant density is largely unknown. Methods: A 2-year field study using the winter wheat cultivar Tainong 18 was conducted by injecting N-labeled urea into soil at depths of 0.2, 0.6, and 1.0 m under four plant densities of 135 m, 270 m,405 m, and 540 m. Results: We observed significant RLD and N-uptake increases at each soil depth as the plant density increased from 135 to 405 m. N-uptake increased with plant density as the soil depth increased, although the corresponding RLD value fell with depth. The N-uptake at each soil depth was positively related to the RLD at the same depth. The total AGN was positively related to RLD in deep soil, especially at 0.8-1.2 m. Conclusions: Increasing the plant density from 135 m to the optimum increases AGN primarily by increasing the RLD in deep soil and therefore increasing the plant density of winter wheat can be used to efficiently recover N leached to deep soil. Moreover, the total root numbers per unit area and RLD still increased at supraoptimal density while shoot number and N uptake stagnated.


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