Leaching of NO −3 from vegetable cropping systems can be very high compared to arable systems. This is a problem for vegetable growers in general as it decreases groundwater quality, and for organic growers in particular as the organic production is often limited by N. In a field experiment, we investigated the N uptake and root growth of three vegetables using minirhizotrons reaching 2.4 m with the purpose to study the relationship between vegetable root distribution and uptake of NO −3 from deep soil layers. NO −3 uptake was studied over a 6 d period at the end of September by injection of 15 NO −3 at four depths in the ranges: 0.2–0.8, 0.6–1.8, and 1–2.5 m under late sweet corn (Zea mays L. convar. Saccharata Koern.), carrot (Daucus carota L.), and autumn white cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. convar. capitata (L.) Alef. var. alba DC), respectively. The root depths of the three crops were 0.6, 1.3, and more than 2.4 m, respectively. Uptake of15N was close to zero from placements below root depth, and linear relationships were found between root density and15N uptake from different depths. N inflow rates (uptake per unit root length) were in the same range for all species and depths. This indicates that the very different N use efficiencies often found for vegetable crops depend on species specific differences in root development over time and space, more than on differences in N uptake ability of the single root. Thus deep rooting is important for deep N uptake. Knowledge about deep root growth enables design of crop rotations with improved N use efficiency based on re-cycling of deep soil NO −3 by vegetables.
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Kristensen, H.L., Thorup-Kristensen, K. Uptake of15N labeled nitrate by root systems of sweet corn, carrot and white cabbage from 0.2–2.5 meters depth. Plant Soil 265, 93–100 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-005-0696-y
- nitrogen uptake
- organic vegetable production
- root density
- root depth