Journal of Plant Growth Regulation

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 400–415 | Cite as

Root Growth, Fruit Yield and Water Use Efficiency of Greenhouse Grown Tomato Under Different Irrigation Regimes and Nitrogen Levels

  • Xiukang WangEmail author
  • Jia Yun
  • Peng Shi
  • Zhanbin Li
  • Peng LiEmail author
  • Yingying Xing


Soil water and nutrients are the two important factors affecting vegetative growth and the reproduction of greenhouse tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum L.), but the effect of the interaction between irrigation and nitrogen (N) rates on fruit yield, root characteristics and N uptake have not yet been studied. Tomatoes were irrigated at 100% (W1), 80% (W2), and 60% (W3) of reference crop evapotranspiration (ET0) and N fertilizer was supplied at 240 kg N ha−1 (N240), 180 kg N ha−1 (N180), and 120 kg N ha−1 (N120) under drip fertigation in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, the fruit yield of the irrigation and N rates varied from 54.1 to 75.9 t ha−1. In 2016 (where the total irrigation amount was higher than in 2015), the fruit yield varied from 55.6 to 78.7 t ha−1. The average fruit yield in W1 was 17.8% and 21.4% higher than W3, in 2015 and 2016 respectively. The mean root weight density in N240 was 13.4% and 10.7% lower than N180, in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Averaging the irrigation levels, the total dry-matter production in N180 and N120 was, respectively, 1.4% and 13.2% lower than N240 in 2015. With the application of the irrigation and N fertilizer rates, plant N uptake increased from 28.7 to 94% in 2015 and from 14 to 92.3% in 2016. The water use efficiency (WUE) of the irrigation and N rates varied from 25.4 to 37.2 kg m−3 and from 20.8 to 36 kg m−3 in 2016. The partial factor productivity of the N fertilizer (PFPN) varied from 274.6 to 529.3 kg kg−1 and from 260.1 to 592.1 kg kg−1 in 2016 with the irrigation and N fertilizer rates. We conclude that the effect of irrigation and N rates on fruit yield, dry-matter production and N uptake significantly changes with the root characteristics. Considering the trade-off among the plant N uptake, WUE and PFPN, W2N180 may give a satisfactory fruit yield for greenhouse tomato in north-west China.


Nitrogen uptake Total root length Total root volume Root weight density Partial factor productivity of the nitrogen fertilizer (PFPN



We are grateful for the research grants from the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2017YFC0504704) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51669034).

Author Contributions

W-XK, L-ZB, and LP conceived and designed experiments; W-XK and LP analyzed the data and drafted the work; YJ, SP and X-YY carried out experiments, W-XK and LP wrote the manuscript. All authors contributed to the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Supplementary material

344_2018_9850_MOESM1_ESM.doc (4.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 4519 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Life SciencesYan’an UniversityYan’anChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory Base of Eco-Hydraulic Engineering in Arid AreaXi’an University of TechnologyXi’anChina

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