Sweet corn significantly increases nitrogen retention and reduces nitrogen leaching as summer catch crop in protected vegetable production systems

Ruiying Guo, Wei Qin, Chunguang Jiang, Lingyun Kang, Claas Nendel, Qing Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Nitrogen (N) leaching is a commonly reported problem in protected vegetable production in China due to poor management. To minimize soil residue N and reduce N leaching, sweet corn is often used as the summer catch crop after the winter-spring growing season. However, the effectiveness of this practice has never been systematically quantified before. Here we reported the effects of sweet corn as catch crop on soil N retention and N leaching in the greenhouse vegetable system, using the data of two 15N isotope micro-plot experiments in soil-bound greenhouse. The results showed that sweet corn removed 11.5% of total residual 15N in soil profile and kept more organic 15N by 39.8% in soil profile, compared to fallow treatment. Root activity increased nitrogen retention due to temporarily immobilizing N as organic form, thereby reducing N leaching. Interestingly, sweet corn significantly reduced N leaching in the later growing stage (August), but not in the earlier stages (July). In total, dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) accounted for 63% of total N leaching. Sweet corn significantly reduced DON leaching, but not mineral N (Nmin) leaching. Hence, reducing N leaching in Chinese greenhouse must distinguish DON and Nmin sources and optimize both. Our study provides quantitative insights in N retention and leaching influenced by sweet corn as catch crop in typical Chinese greenhouse production systems, which provide guidance for searching for better catch crops in further studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-153
JournalSoil and Tillage Research
Volume180
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Keywords

  • N Isotope
  • Nitrogen leaching
  • Protected vegetable production
  • Soil nitrogen retention
  • Summer catch crop

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