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Controlled‐release urea decreased ammonia volatilization and increased nitrogen use efficiency of cotton

Tian, Xiaofei, Geng, Jibiao, Guo, Yanle, Li, Chengliang, Zhang, Min, Chen, Jianqiu
Zeitschrift für Pflanzenernährung und Bodenkunde 2017 v.180 no.6 pp. 667-675
Gossypium hirsutum, ammonia, cotton, fertilizer rates, flowering, leaves, lint yield, nitrogen, nitrogen content, nutrient use efficiency, photosynthesis, plant growth, polymer-coated urea, soil, sulfur-coated urea, urea, volatilization
Excessive nitrogen (N) fertilizer input leads to higher N loss via ammonia (NH₃) volatilization. Controlled‐release urea (CRU) was expected to reduce emission losses of N. An incubation and a plant growth experiment with Gossypium hirsutum L. were conducted with urea and CRU (a fertilizer mixture of polymer‐coating sulfur‐coated urea and polymer‐coated urea with N ratios of 5 : 5) under six levels of N fertilization rates, which were 0% (0 mg N kg⁻¹ soil), 50% (110 mg N kg⁻¹ soil), 75% (165 mg N kg⁻¹ soil), 100% (220 mg N kg⁻¹ soil), 125% (275 mg N kg⁻¹ soil), and 150% (330 mg N kg⁻¹ soil) of the recommended N fertilizer rate. For each type of N fertilizer, the NH₃ volatilization, cotton yield, and N uptake increased with the rate of N application, while N use efficiency reached a threshold and decreased when N application rates of urea and CRU exceeded 238.7 and 209.3 mg N kg⁻¹ soil, respectively. Ammonia volatilization was reduced by 65–105% with CRU in comparison to urea treatments. The N release characteristic of CRU corresponded well to the N requirements of cotton growth. Soil inorganic N contents, leaf SPAD values, and net photosynthetic rates were increased by CRU application, particularly from the full bloom stage to the initial boll‐opening stage. As a result, CRU treatments achieved significantly higher lint yield by 7–30%, and the N use efficiency of CRU treatments was increased by 25–124% relative to that of urea treatments. These results suggest that the application of CRU could be widely used for cotton production with higher N use efficiency and lower NH₃ volatilization.