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Researchers develop an efficient fertilizer supply method in desert-sandy soil


Nitrate-N leaching occurs at significantly higher pace in sandy soils, it can drain out of the root zone in the matter of days. While, this leached nitrate-N can even reach the aquifer within months, which can be seriously detrimental to ground water quality.

Zeng Fanjiang, a researcher from Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, lead his team innovatively invented an efficient fertilizer application method: urea side drilling in mud (SDM). SDM is a simple modification of the conventional top dressing (CTD) technique in which urea is side-drilled in a sludge of sand soon after the infiltration of applied water, rather than applying prior irrigation, because, in muddy condition, still an ample quantity of water remains available to dissolve the applied urea. Thus, SDM can enhance nitrate-N availability in cotton root zone by reducing leaching loss, and maximizes uptake and nitrogen use efficiency in sandy soils.

Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) is an important oilseed and fiber crop, which grows well in well-drained soil. In China’s northwestern Xinjiang province, cotton is widespread cultivated. However, most of them grows in coarse textured aeolian sandy soils with high water infiltration potential around the Taklamakan desert.

This study sorted out the best possible nitrogen application method for cotton that would reduce leaching and improve nitrogen recovery efficiency in sandy soils under flood/furrow irrigated conditions through evaluating the growth and yield attributes of cotton on sandy soil, said Zeng.

The study could be an important contribution in the science of nitrogen leaching losses management in cotton and other crops grown on sandy soils under conventional flood or furrow irrigated conditions.

Research results are published on Agricultural Water Management, entitled Nitrogen leaching, recovery efficiency, and cotton productivity assessments on desert-sandy soil under various application methods.


Contact: LIU Jie, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography

E-mail: liujie@ms.xjb.ac.cn