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Open AccessArticle

Nitrogen Fertilizer Management and Maize Straw Return Modulate Yield and Nitrogen Balance in Sweet Corn

1
Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, Crop Research Institute, Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Guangzhou 510640, China
2
Department of Botany, Division of Science and Technology, University of Education, Lahore, Punjab 54770, Pakistan
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Authors with equal contribution.
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 362; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030362
Received: 24 January 2020 / Revised: 2 March 2020 / Accepted: 3 March 2020 / Published: 5 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nitrogen Fertilization in Vegetable Crops)
Nitrogen fertilizer is an important component of crop production; however, its excessive application could result in N loss that could have serious environmental concerns. Straw incorporation in the soil after crop harvest is one of the most feasible straw management techniques, however, the optimization of nitrogen (N) fertilizer management and maize straw incorporation to modulate the crop yield and to maintain N balance in sweet corn is necessary to get better yields on a sustained basis. The present study was comprised of two straw management treatments i.e., (i) no straw return (S0), and (ii) incorporation of crushed corn ears by into the soil using rotary tiller (S100) and four N fertilizer management treatments i.e., (i) common farmer practice with total N applied at 300 kg ha−1 with 50%, 5%, 30%, and 15% splits at basal, 3-leaf stage (V3), at hilling stage (V8) and at tasseling/flowering stage (RT), respectively (FM); (ii) application of total N at 225 kg ha−1 with 40%, 10% and 50% at basal, 3-leaf stage (V3) and at hilling stage (V8), respectively (OMI); (iii) application of total N at 150 kg ha−1 with 40%, 10% and 50% at basal, 3-leaf stage (V3), and at hilling stage (V8), respectively (OMII); and (iv) the treatment without any fertilizer application (N0). The hybrid sweet corn cultivar ‘Yuetian 28’ was grown during the spring and autumn growing seasons of 2016 and 2017. The results showed that the N management treatments substantially improved the fresh ear yield, ear number and ear weight, partial factor productivity from nitrogen (PFPN), recovery efficiency from nitrogen (REN), and agronomic efficiency from nitrogen (AEN). Compared with FM, the OMI and OMII treatments significantly increased the AEN and PFPN whilst decreased the apparent N loss, however, the fresh ear yield, ear number and ear weight in OMI treatment were found to be statistically similar (p ˃ 0.05) to FM. Moreover, the S100 treatment did not affect the fresh ear yield and yield components significantly. Overall, straw return combined with an optimized N fertilizer application could improve the yield of sweet corn on a sustained basis with minimum and/or negligible N loss. View Full-Text
Keywords: sweet corn; maize straw; N use efficiency; N loss; yield sweet corn; maize straw; N use efficiency; N loss; yield
MDPI and ACS Style

Gao, L.; Li, W.; Ashraf, U.; Lu, W.; Li, Y.; Li, C.; Li, G.; Li, G.; Hu, J. Nitrogen Fertilizer Management and Maize Straw Return Modulate Yield and Nitrogen Balance in Sweet Corn. Agronomy 2020, 10, 362.

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