The Science of Nature

, 104:72 | Cite as

Interactive effects of water and controlled release urea on nitrogen metabolism, accumulation, translocation, and yield in summer maize

  • Guanghao Li
  • Bin ZhaoEmail author
  • Shuting DongEmail author
  • Jiwang Zhang
  • Peng Liu
  • Tony J. Vyn
Original Paper


To investigate the interactive effects of water and N from controlled release urea (CRU) on N metabolism, accumulation, translocation, and yield in Zhengdan958 (a summer maize cultivar planted widely in China), three water levels (adequate water W3, mild water stress W2, severe water stress W1) and four amounts of CRU (N) (N0, N1, N2, and N3 were 0, 105, 210, and 315 kg N ha−1, respectively) were carried out under the waterproof shed and soil column conditions. The results showed that yield, N metabolism, accumulation, and translocation were significantly affected by water, CRU, and their interactions after tasseling. Yields showed an increasing trend in response to N rates from 100.2 to 128.8 g plant−1 under severe water stress (W1), from 124.7 to 174.6 g plant−1 under mild water stress (W2), and from 143.7 to 177.0 g plant−1 under adequate water conditions (W3). There was an associated optimum amount of N for each water level. Under W1 and W2, N3 treatments showed significant advantages in three N metabolism enzymes’ activities and the N accumulations, and yield and its components were highest. But the nitrogen harvest index (NHI) of N3 had no significant difference with other nitrogen treatments. Under W3, the N translocation efficiency (NTE) and N translocation conversion rate (NTCR) of N2 in stem and leaf were higher than those of N3, but the N metabolism enzymes’ activities and yields of N2 and N3 had no significant difference, which indicated that N2 was superior to N3. The N3 treatment under W2 and N2 under W3 increased the N accumulation capacity in maize grain as well as the N translocation to grain that contributed to the increase of 1000-gain weight and grains per ear after tasseling. Under this experimental condition, a CRU rate of 225 kg ha−1 was the best treatment when the soil moisture content was 75 ± 5% of field capacity, but an N rate of 300 kg ha−1 was superior when soil moisture content was maintained at 55 ± 5% of field capacity during the entire growing season.


Summer maize (Zea mays L.) Water Controlled release urea Yield N metabolism and translocation 



We acknowledge financial supports from the Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31301274 and 31171497) and Funds of Shandong “Double Tops” Program (SYL2017YSTD02). We would also like to thank the reviewers for helping us to improve our original manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Crop Biology and College of AgronomyShandong Agricultural UniversityTaianPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Agronomy DepartmentPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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