Nitrogen uptake, nitrate leaching and root development in winter-grown wheat and fodder radish

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Early seeding of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) has been proposed as a means to reduce N
leaching as an alternative to growing cover crops like fodder radish (Raphanus sativus L.). The
objective of this study was to quantify the effect of winter wheat, seeded early and normally, and of
fodder radish on N dynamics and root growth. Field experiments were carried out on a humid
temperate sandy loam soil. Aboveground biomass and soil inorganic N were determined in late
autumn; N uptake and grain yield of winter wheat were measured at harvest. Nitrate leaching was
estimated from soil water samples taken at 1 m depth. Root growth was measured late autumn using
the core break and root washing methods. Winter wheat root growth dynamics were followed during
the growing season using the minirhizotron method. The 2013–2014 results showed that early seeding
of wheat improved autumn growth and N uptake and reduced N leaching during the winter
compared with the normal seeding time. Early-seeded wheat (WWearly) was, however, not as efficient
as fodder radish at reducing N leaching. Proper establishment of WWearly was a prerequisite for
benefiting from early seeding, as indicated by the 2012–2013 results. Early seeding improved root
growth throughout the 2013–2014 growing season compared with normal seeding time, but had no
significant effect on crop grain yield. Our results indicate the potential of using early seeding as a tool
to limit drought susceptibility and increase nutrient uptake from the subsoil.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSoil Use and Management
Pages (from-to)233-242
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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