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Agronomy (Switzerland)

Quantification of actual plant consumption of nitrogen (N) is necessary to optimize fertilization efficiency and minimize contamination of earth resources. We examined the performance of fruit-bearing pomegranate trees grown in soilless media and exposed to eight N-fertigation treatments, from 5 to 200 mg N L−1. Reproductive and vegetative indices were found to be optimal when 20 to 70 mg N L−1 was supplied. Nitrogen application levels over 70 mg L−1 reduced pomegranate development and reproduction. N uptake in low-level treatments was almost 100% and decreased gradually, down to 13% in 200 mg N L−1 treatment. N usage efficiency was maximized under 20 mg N L−1, in which case 80% to 90% of added N was taken up by the trees. At high N application, its efficiency was reduced with less than 50% utilized by the trees. Leaf N increased to a plateau as a function of increasing irrigation solution N, maximizing at ~15 to 20 mg N g−1. Therefore, analysis of diagnostic leaves is not a valid method to identify excessive detrimental N. The results should be valuable in the development of efficient, sustainable, environmentally responsible protocols for N fertilization in commercial pomegranate orchards, following adaptation and validation to real soil field conditions. 

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Optimizing Nitrogen Application for Growth and Productivity of Pomegranates
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Optimizing Nitrogen Application for Growth and Productivity of Pomegranates

Quantification of actual plant consumption of nitrogen (N) is necessary to optimize fertilization efficiency and minimize contamination of earth resources. We examined the performance of fruit-bearing pomegranate trees grown in soilless media and exposed to eight N-fertigation treatments, from 5 to 200 mg N L−1. Reproductive and vegetative indices were found to be optimal when 20 to 70 mg N L−1 was supplied. Nitrogen application levels over 70 mg L−1 reduced pomegranate development and reproduction. N uptake in low-level treatments was almost 100% and decreased gradually, down to 13% in 200 mg N L−1 treatment. N usage efficiency was maximized under 20 mg N L−1, in which case 80% to 90% of added N was taken up by the trees. At high N application, its efficiency was reduced with less than 50% utilized by the trees. Leaf N increased to a plateau as a function of increasing irrigation solution N, maximizing at ~15 to 20 mg N g−1. Therefore, analysis of diagnostic leaves is not a valid method to identify excessive detrimental N. The results should be valuable in the development of efficient, sustainable, environmentally responsible protocols for N fertilization in commercial pomegranate orchards, following adaptation and validation to real soil field conditions. 

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