Effects of N-15 application frequency on nitrogen uptake efficiency in Citrus trees
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Two irrigation systems were used to compare nitrogen uptake efficiency in citrus trees and to evaluate the NO3- runoff in much less thanNavelinamuch greater than, orange trees [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] on Carrizo citrange rootstock (Citrus sinensis x Poncirus trifoliata Raf.). These were fertilized with 125 g IN as labelled (KNO3)-N-15 and grown outdoors in containers filled with a sand-loamy soil. Two groups of 3 trees received this N dose either in five equally split applications by a flooding irrigation system or in 66 applications by drip. Trees were harvested at the end of the vegetative cycle (December) and the isotopic ratios of N-15/N-14 were measured in the soil-plant system. The N uptake efficiency of the whole tree was higher with drip irrigation (75%) than with flooding system (64%). In the 0-90 cm soil profile, the N immobilized in the organic fraction was similar for both irrigation methods (around 13%), whereas the N retained as NO3- was 1% of the N applied under drip and 10% under flooding. In the last case, most of NO3- remained under root system and it could be lost to leaching either by heavy rainfalls or excessive water applications. These results showed that a drip irrigation system was more efficient for improving water use and N uptake from fertilizer, in addition to potentially reduced leaching losses.