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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 39 No. 3, p. 845-854
     
    Received: Aug 7, 2009
    Published: May, 2010


    * Corresponding author(s): herreraj@agro.uba.ar
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doi:10.2134/jeq2009.0306

Root Growth and Nitrate-Nitrogen Leaching of Catch Crops following Spring Wheat

  1. Juan M. Herrera *a,
  2. Boy Feilb,
  3. Peter Stampb and
  4. Markus Liedgensa
  1. a Institute of Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Eschikon 33, CH-8315, Lindau, Zurich, Switzerland
    b Institute of Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Universitätstrasse 2, CH-8092, Zurich, Switzerland. Assigned to Associate Editor Christopher Green

Abstract

Growing nitrogen (N) catch crops can reduce NO3–N leaching after cultivating cereals. The objective of this study was to relate NO3–N leaching to variation in the uptake of N and the size and distribution of the root systems of different catch crops species. In a 3-yr lysimeter experiment, phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia Benth.), sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), and a Brassica species (yellow mustard [Brassica alba L.] or a hybrid of turnip rape [B. rapa L. spp. oleifera (DC.) Metzg.] and Chinese cabbage [B. rapa L. ssp. chinensis (L.) Hanelt]) were grown after the harvest of spring wheat under two levels of N supply. Bare soil lysimeters served as the control. Water percolation from the lysimeters and the NO3 concentration in the leachate were measured weekly from the sowing until the presumed frost-kill of the catch crops. Minirhizotrons were used to assess the spatial and temporal patterns of root growth from 0.10 to 1.00 m. The catch crop species differed in their shoot biomass, N uptake, total NO3–N leaching, and root growth. The results suggested that there was no strict relationship between the total NO3–N leaching of each catch crop species and the N uptake or parameters that indicate static characteristics of the root system. In contrast, the ranking of each catch crop species by parameters that indicate early root growth was inversely related to the ranking of each catch crop species in NO3–N leaching. The rapid establishment of the root system is essential for a catch crop following spring wheat to reduce the amount of NO3–N leaching after the harvest of spring wheat.

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Copyright © 2010. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America