Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 143, Issue 1–4, pp 139–154 | Cite as

Best Nitrogen and Irrigation Management Practices for Citrus Production in Sandy Soils

  • A. K. AlvaEmail author
  • S. Paramasivam
  • W. D. Graham
  • T. A. Wheaton


Drinking water monitoring data have indicated anincrease in nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) concentration ingroundwater in some parts of the citrus production region ofFlorida. A proactive, incentive-based program of developingcrop-specific best management practices (BMP) began with theFlorida N-BMP legislation passed in 1994. A combination ofcareful irrigation and nitrogen (N) management is needed toimprove N uptake efficiency and to minimize potential leaching ofnitrate (NO3-N) to the groundwater. An improved Nmanagement practice is considered as a BMP, only if that practiceis proved to decrease NO3-N leaching into groundwater incommercial groves without adversely impacting the economics ofproduction. Therefore, long-term evaluation of horticulturalresponses as well as monitoring of groundwater NO3-N wereconducted in five commercial groves representing different soiltypes, citrus variety and rootstock, tree age, and culturalpractices to determine the impact of changes in N managementand/or irrigation scheduling. Groundwater NO3-N, leafnutrient concentrations, fruit yield and fruit quality weremonitored for 15 months under the growers' routine managementand, subsequently for 48 months, with improved N and irrigationmanagement practices. The N management practices evaluated inthis study included broadcast application of a combination ofwater soluble and slow release granular products, fertigation,and a combination of foliar application and fertigation. Irrigation management was improved by using tensiometer set pointof 10 and 15 cbar. This article presents the fruit yield, andconcentrations of N, P, K in six-month spring flush during thestudy period. The study showed that 5 to 8 yr old Valenciatrees on Volkamar lemon rootstock produced high quality fruit inthe range of 59 to 81 Mg ha-1 with 168 kg N ha-1 asfertigation combined with improved irrigation scheduling. Fruityield of 36 yr old Valencia orange trees on Rough lemonrootstock was greater with application of 180 kg N ha-1 yr-1 as fertigation compared to that of the trees whichreceived a similar rate of N as three broadcast applications ofgranular product. Fertilizer program comprising three foliarapplications of N using low biuret urea to deliver 66 kg N ha-1 yr-1 and an additional 76 kg N ha-1yr-1as fertigation was the most effective for decreasing the surficialgroundwater NO3-N while maintaining optimal fruit productionand nutritional status of the leaves. This study demonstratedthat economically and technically feasible N-BMPs can bedeveloped for citrus grown on sandy soils with a combination ofimproved N management and irrigation scheduling.

fruit quality groundwater nitrate nitrogen losses nitrogen transformation optimal nitrogen requirement vadose zone 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. K. Alva
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. Paramasivam
    • 2
  • W. D. Graham
    • 3
  • T. A. Wheaton
    • 4
  1. 1.USDA-ARS-PWA, Vegetable and Forage Research UnitProsserU.S.A. (author for correspondence
  2. 2.Marine and Environmental Science and Biotechnology Research CenterSavannah State UniversitySavannahU.S.A
  3. 3.Department of Agriculture and Biological EngineeringUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleU.S.A
  4. 4.Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Citrus Research and Education CenterUniversity of FloridaLake AlfredU.S.A

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