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Nitrogen source contribution in sugarcane-inoculated plants with diazotrophic bacterias under urea-N fertigation management

  • Glauber José de Castro Gava
  • Fábio Vale Scarpare
  • Heitor Cantarella
  • Oriel Tiago Kölln
  • Simone Toni Ruiz-Corrêa
  • Adolfo Bergamo Arlanch
  • Paulo Cesar Ocheuze Trivelin
Research Article


Although Brazilian sugarcane crops use lower nitrogen rates when compared to other producing countries, the biological nitrogen fixation (BFN) could be performed aiming to reduce costs, since almost all nitrogen fertilization used in Brazil is imported. BFN can occur in sugarcane; however, its role in non-leguminous plants is controversial. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the nitrogen source contribution (using N isotope 15N technique) along a growing period in sugarcane plants under different management (diazotrophic bacteria inoculation and N fertigation rates). The natural abundance of nitrogen isotope (15N) abundance in + 1 leaves of fourth ratoon cultivar SP 80-3280 was used to indicate the comparative importance of N sources, including BFN for sugarcane nutrition. The treatments were irrigated with two levels of nitrogen fertilizer 50 and 100 kg ha−1 (urea source), including a control without fertilizer, with (I) and without (NI) inoculation of nitrogen-fixing bacterias. The bacteria cocktail used consisted of five strains: Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus, Herbaspirillum seropedicae, H. rubrisubalbicans, Burkholderia tropica and Azospirillum amazonense. Although the nitrogen content in + 1 leaves, the above ground dry matter, cane yield and stalk sugar content expanded by increasing nitrogen fertilizer rates, no significant interactions between nitrogen-fixing bacteria inoculation and nitrogen fertilizer rates were observed. In the treatment without N fertilizer application, no differences in δ15N‰ (per thousand) values between sugarcane-inoculated and sugarcane-non-inoculated sugarcane leaves was found. The temporal variation of δ15N‰ in sugarcane + 1 leaves indicated that nitrogen content and δ15N‰ values decreased during the phenological development stages and that the main sources of nitrogen for sugarcane were from synthetic fertilizer and mineralization of nitrogen from soil organic matter.


Isotope fractionation Subsurface drip irrigation Biological nitrogen fixation Temporal 15N variation Nitrogen fertilizer Crop management Fertilization 



We thank the Agência Paulista de Tecnologia dos Agronégocios (APTA-Jaú) for fieldwork support and São Paulo Research Foundation for project funded (FAPESP: 2008/56.147-1).


This study was funded by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (grant number 2008/56147-1).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society for Sugar Research & Promotion 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glauber José de Castro Gava
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fábio Vale Scarpare
    • 3
    • 4
  • Heitor Cantarella
    • 5
  • Oriel Tiago Kölln
    • 1
  • Simone Toni Ruiz-Corrêa
    • 6
  • Adolfo Bergamo Arlanch
    • 2
  • Paulo Cesar Ocheuze Trivelin
    • 3
  1. 1.Agência Paulista de Tecnologias dos AgronegóciosUnidade de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento “Hélio de Moraes”JaúBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Irrigação e DrenagemUniversidade Estadual PaulistaBotucatuBrazil
  3. 3.Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura (CENA)Universidade de São Paulo (USP)PiracicabaBrazil
  4. 4.Faculdade de Engenharia Mecânica (FEM)Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP)CampinasBrazil
  5. 5.Instituto Agronômico de Campinas (IAC)CampinasBrazil
  6. 6.Escola Superior de Agricultura “Luiz de Queiroz” (ESALQ), Universidade de São Paulo (USP)PiracicabaBrazil

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