Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 93, Issue 2, pp 151–162 | Cite as

Crop and soil nitrogen responses to phosphorus and potassium fertilization and drip irrigation under processing tomato

  • K. Liu
  • T. Q. Zhang
  • C. S. Tan
  • T. Astatkie
  • G. W. Price
Original Article


Shortage of water or nutrient supplies can restrict the high nitrogen (N) demand of processing tomato, leaving high residual soil N resulting in negative environmental impacts. A 4-year field experiment, 2006–2009, was conducted to study the effects of water management consisting of drip irrigation (DI) and non-irrigation (NI), fertilizer phosphorus (P) rates (0, 30, 60, and 90 kg P ha−1), and fertilizer potassium (K) rates (0, 200, 400, and 600 kg K ha−1) on soil and plant N when a recommended N rate of 270 kg N ha−1 was applied. Compared with the NI treatment, DI increased fruit N removal by 101 %, plant total N uptake by 26 %, and N harvest index by 55 %. Consequently, DI decreased apparent field N balance (fertiliser N input minus plant total N uptake) by 28 % and cumulative post-harvest soil N in the 0–100 cm depth by 33 %. Post-harvest soil N concentration was not affected by water management in the 0–20 cm depth, but was significantly higher in the NI treatment in the 20–100 cm depth. Fertilizer P input had no effects on all variables except for decreasing N concentration in the stems and leaves. Fertilizer K rates significantly affected plant N utilization, with highest fruit N removal and plant total N uptake at the 200 kg K ha−1 treatment; therefore, supplementing K had the potential to decrease gross N losses during tomato growing seasons. Based on the measured apparent field N balance and spatial distribution of soil N, gross N losses during the growing season were more severe than expected in a region that is highly susceptible to post-harvest soil N losses.


Nitrogen balance Nitrogen harvest index Nitrogen uptake Soil profile nitrogen Drip irrigation 



Drip irrigation






Cumulative soil inorganic nitrogen


Soil inorganic N concentration


Nitrogen concentration of stems and leaves


Nitrogen harvest index


Nitrate nitrogen







We thank M. Reeb, D. Pohlman, K. Rinas, and B. Hohner for technical assistance and the Ontario Agri-Business Association, International Plant Nutrient Institute, Canadian Fertilizer Institution, Ontario Tomato Research Institute, Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers, A & L Canada Laboratories Inc., and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Matching Initiative Investment (MII) program for financial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Liu
    • 1
  • T. Q. Zhang
    • 2
  • C. S. Tan
    • 2
  • T. Astatkie
    • 3
  • G. W. Price
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Soil ScienceUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research CenterAgriculture and Agri-Food CanadaHarrowCanada
  3. 3.Department of EngineeringNova Scotia Agricultural CollegeTruroCanada

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