Nitrogen uptake dynamics, yield and quality as influenced by nitrogen fertilization in ‘Piel de sapo’ melon

M. T. Castellanos, M. J. Cabello, M. C. Cartagena, A. M. Tarquis, A. Arce, F. Ribas


The need to reduce nitrogen (N) fertilizer pollution strengthens the importance of improving the utilization efficiency of applied N to crops. This requires knowledge of crop N uptake characteristics and how fertilization management affects it. A three-year field experiment was conducted from May to September in central Spain to investigate the influence of different N rates, which ranged from 11 to 393 kg ha-1, applied through drip irrigation, on the dynamics of N uptake, nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), fruit yield and quality of a ‘Piel de sapo’ melon crop (Cucumis melo L. cv. Sancho). Both N concentration and N content increased in different plant parts with the N rate. Leaves had the highest N concentration, which declined by 40-50% from 34-41 days after transplanting (DAT), while the highest N uptake rate was observed from 30-35 to 70-80 DAT, coinciding with fruit development. In each year, NUE declined with increasing N rate. With N fertilizer applications close to the optimum N rate of 90-100 kg ha-1, the fruits removed approximately 60 kg N ha-1, and the amount of N in the crop residue was about 80 kg N ha-1; this serves to replenish the organic nutrient pool in the soil and may be used by subsequent crops following mineralization.


Cucumis melo; fertilization; N distribution; N use efficiency; N removal; N in crop residues

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2012103-437-11