Effects of partial root-zone irrigation on the nitrogen absorption and utilization of maize

Tiantian Hu, Shaozhong Kang*, Fusheng Li, Jianhua ZHANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate the dynamic change of plant nitrogen (N) absorption and accumulation from different root zones under the partial root-zone irrigation (PRI), maize plants were raised in split-root containers and irrigated on both halves of the container (conventional irrigation, CI), on one side only (fixed partial root-zone irrigation, FPRI), or alternatively on one of two sides (alternate partial root-zone irrigation, APRI). And the isotope-labeled 15N-(NH4)2SO4 was applied to one half of the container with (14NH4)2SO4 to the other half so that N inflow rates can be tracked. Results showed that APRI treatment increased root N absorption in the irrigated zone significantly when compared to that of CI treatment. The re-irrigated half resumed high N inflow rate within 5 days after irrigation in APRI, suggesting that APRI had significant compensatory effect on N uptake. The amount of N absorption from two root zones of APRI was equal after two rounds of alternative irrigation (20 days). The recovery rate, residual and loss percentages of fertilizer-N applied to two zones were similar. As for FPRI treatment, the N accumulation in plant was mainly from the irrigated root zone. The recovery rate and loss percentage of fertilizer-N applied to the irrigated zone was higher and the residual percentage of fertilizer-N in soil was lower if compared to those of the non-irrigated zone. The recovery rate of fertilizer-N in APRI treatment was higher than that of the non-irrigated zone but lower than that of the irrigated zone in FPRI treatment. In total, both FPRI and APRI treatments increased N and water use efficiencies but only consumed about 70% of the irrigated water when compared to CI treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-214
Number of pages7
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes

User-Defined Keywords

  • N-Fertilizer
  • Alternate partial root-zone irrigation
  • Maize (Zea mays L.)
  • N use efficiency
  • Water use efficiency


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