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Acta Agronomica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (5): 1199-1209.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1006.2022.14069


Effects of reduced nitrogen application on soil aeration and root nodule growth of relay strip intercropping soybean

PENG Xi-Hong1(), CHEN Ping1, DU Qing1, YANG Xue-Li1, REN Jun-Bo1, ZHENG Ben-Chuan1, LUO Kai1, XIE Chen1, LEI Lu2, YONG Tai-Wen1,*(), YANG Wen-Yu1   

  1. 1College of Agronomy, Sichuan Agricultural University / Key Laboratory of Crop Ecophysiology and Farming System in Southwest, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs / Sichuan Engineering Research Center for Crop Strip Intercropping System, Chengdu 611130, Sichuan, China
    2Renshou Meteorological Bureau, Meishan 620500, Sichuan, China
  • Received:2021-04-20 Accepted:2021-07-12 Online:2022-05-12 Published:2021-08-11
  • Contact: YONG Tai-Wen E-mail:1448861097@qq.com;yongtaiwen@sicau.edu.cn
  • Supported by:
    China Agriculture Research System (Soybean, CARS-04-PS18);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31872856);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31671625)


To study the effects of planting system and nitrogen application rate on soybean soil aeration environment and nodulation and nitrogen fixation, we adopted a two-factor split area experiment design, with the main area of planting pattern [soybean monoculture (SS), maize/soybean relay strip intercropping (MS)], and the sub-regions of different nitrogen application rates [no nitrogen application (NN: 0 kg hm-2), reduced nitrogen application (RN: 45 kg hm-2), and constant nitrogen application (CN: 60 kg hm-2)]. The dynamic changes of soil O2 content and soil respiration rate during soybean growth period was monitored, the differences of soil water-stable aggregates, bulk density, and porosity of each treatment were analyzed, and the variation characteristics of nodulation amount and nitrogen fixation capacity during soybean growth period were discussed. Two years’ data showed that, compared with monoculture soybean, relay strip intercropping soybeans increased soil O2 content, the percentage of aggregates with a particle size > 2 mm, significantly increased soil porosity and soil respiration rate during the late growth period in soybean; reduced the percentage of aggregates with a particle size of < 1 mm and soil porosity. There was no significant difference in the dry weight of nodules at R5 stage, but the number of nodules was significantly increased by 39.9%. Nitrogenase activity and nitrogen fixation potential were also significantly higher than those of monocrops. Among the various nitrogen application rates, the soil O2 content, the percentage content of 0.25-1.00 mm particle size, and the soil respiration rate of relay strip intercropping soybean were the highest in RN treatment. Nitrogen application decreased the percentage content of water-stable aggregates with particle size < 0.25 mm and soil bulk density; nitrogen application significantly inhibited the nodulation amount, nitrogenase activity and nitrogen fixation potential of monoculture soybean in the early stage, but the inhibitory effect of nitrogen fertilizer was alleviated at R5 stage. Reduced nitrogen application increased nodulation at the late stage of relay strip intercropping soybean, and it could significantly enhance the nitrogenase activity and nitrogen fixation potential of soybeans during the growth period. Relay strip intercropping soybean combined with reduced nitrogen application promoted the formation of large aggregates, increased soil porosity, improved soybean soil aeration environment, maintained higher soil O2 content, promoted soil respiration, and facilitated the nodulation and nitrogen fixation of soybean at later stages.

Key words: relay strip intercropping soybean, reduced nitrogen application, soil oxygen, soil respiration rate, soil porosity, root nodules

Fig. 1

Daily rainfall and average daily air temperature at the test sites from 2019 to 2020"

Fig. 2

Dynamic changes of soil oxygen content at V5, R2, and R5 stage in soybean V5: 5-trifoliate period; R2: full bloom; R5: beginning seed. SS: soybean monoculture; MS: maize/soybean relay strip intercropping. NN: no nitrogen application; RN: reduced nitrogen application; CN: constant nitrogen application."

Fig. 3

Effects of planting pattern and nitrogen application level on soil respiration rate in soybean Different lowercase letters indicate significant differences at the 0.05 probability level between different N application levels under the same planting pattern. Treatments are the same as those given in Fig. 2. V5: 5-trifoliate period; R2: full bloom; R5: beginning seed."

Table 1

Mass percentage content of soil water stable aggregates under different planting pattern and nitrogen application level (%)"

年份 Year 种植模式
Planting pattern
N application rate
土壤水稳性团聚体粒径分布 Particle size distribution of soil water stable aggregates
>5 mm 2-5 mm 1-2 mm 0.5-1 mm 0.25-0.5 mm <0.25 mm
2019 SS NN 20.43 b 13.17 b 8.48 b 16.95 a 17.27 b 23.71 a
RN 19.87 b 13.72 ab 9.71 a 17.05 a 19.28 a 20.36 b
CN 25.59 a 14.61 a 9.40 ab 17.05 a 16.46 b 16.89 c
平均 Mean 21.96 13.83 9.20 17.02 17.67 20.32
MS NN 29.15 b 18.16 a 9.91 a 10.31 b 11.44 c 21.03 a
RN 28.733 b 14.17 b 8.99 a 14.19 a 14.22 a 19.69 b
CN 31.92 a 16.66 a 9.20 a 13.08 a 12.85 b 16.29 c
平均 Mean 29.94 16.33 9.37 12.53 12.84 19.01
方差分析 ANOVA (F-value)
Planting pattern (A) 153.00** 58.53** 0.49ns 342.11** 377.73** 15.94**
N application rate (B) 19.12** 12.12** 0.15ns 24.01** 36.758** 104.04**
A×B 1.62ns 16.63** 7.142** 21.33** 6.81* 4.28*
2020 SS NN 28.03 a 15.69 a 9.69 a 16.11 b 14.61 a 15.87 b
RN 26.41 a 14.54 b 8.61 b 18.90 a 15.30 a 16.23 b
CN 28.22 a 16.55 a 8.45 b 15.96 b 11.85 b 18.98 a
平均 Mean 27.56 15.59 8.92 16.99 13.92 17.03
MS NN 31.59 b 16.65 a 8.29 b 11.85 b 12.75 b 18.88 a
RN 31.37 b 16.22 a 9.41 a 14.52 a 14.61 a 13.87 b
CN 41.50 a 14.76 b 6.39 c 11.69 b 10.97 c 14.69 b
平均 Mean 34.82 15.88 8.03 12.69 12.78 15.81
方差分析ANOVA (F-value)
Planting pattern (A) 121.18** 0.91ns 18.01** 411.11** 24.65** 16.39**
N application rate (B) 31.63** 2.40ns 25.47** 77.96** 80.95** 21.91**
A×B 21.16** 12.54** 17.09** 0.03ns 2.47ns 53.09**

Table 2

Effects of different treatments on soil bulk density and porosity"

Planting pattern
N application rate
土壤容重 Bulk density (g cm-3) 土壤孔隙度 Soil porosity (%)
2019 2020 2019 2020
SS NN 1.49 a 1.48 b 43.71 b 44.15 a
RN 1.44 b 1.45 b 45.56 a 45.16 a
CN 1.49 a 1.53 a 43.68 b 42.29 b
平均 Mean 1.48 1.49 44.32 43.87
MS NN 1.44 a 1.48 a 45.49 a 44.28 ab
RN 1.43 a 1.45 a 45.88 a 45.30 a
CN 1.46 a 1.48 a 44.79 a 44.15 b
平均 Mean 1.45 1.47 a 44.79 44.57
Planting pattern (A) 12.97** 7.11* 12.97** 7.91*
N application rate (B) 9.13** 20.03** 9.13** 21.11**
A×B 2.02ns 5.86* 2.02ns 5.21*

Fig. 4

Effect of different treatments on the number of root nodules in soybean Different lowercase letters indicate significant differences at the 0.05 probability level between different N application levels under the same planting pattern. Treatments are the same as those given in Fig. 2. V5: 5-trifoliate period; R2: full bloom; R5: beginning seed."

Fig. 5

Effect of different treatments on dry weight of root nodules in soybean Different lowercase letters indicate significant differences at the 0.05 probability level between different N application levels under the same planting pattern. Treatments are the same as those given in Fig. 2. V5: 5-trifoliate period; R2: full bloom; R5: beginning seed."

Table 3

Nitrogenase activity per unit mass and nitrogen fixation potential per plant under different treatments in 2020"

Planting pattern
N application
V5 R2 R5
固氮酶活性Nitrogenase activity
(μL g-1 h-1)
Nitrogen potential
(μL h-1 plant-1)
固氮酶活性Nitrogenase activity
(μL g-1 h-1)
Nitrogen potential
(μL h-1 plant-1)
固氮酶活性Nitrogenase activity
(μL g-1 h-1)
Nitrogen potential
(μL h-1 plant-1)
SS NN 295.21 a 72.03 a 631.17 a 615.63 a 23.80 b 39.38 b
RN 118.41 b 15.67 b 463.25 b 336.76 b 66.10 a 111.28 a
CN 42.20 c 2.42 b 63.54 c 37.18 c 32.40 b 46.31 b
平均 Mean 151.94 30.04 385.99 329.86 40.77 65.66
MS NN 153.46 c 35.43 a 232.11 ab 188.46 a 75.85 b 133.35 b
RN 240.71 a 39.91 a 312.91 a 235.48 a 136.35 a 255.04 a
CN 106.46 b 19.16 b 137.35 b 64.28 b 83.88 b 107.09 b
平均 Mean 166.88 31.5 227.46 162.74 98.69 165.16
Planting pattern (A) 2.63ns 0.10ns 26.58** 19.32** 116.98** 127.39**
N application (B) 93.36** 29.80** 45.67** 29.55** 35.39** 59.46**
A×B 75.78** 17.53** 19.73** 12.64** 1.32ns 7.48**

Fig. 6

PCA Analysis of characteristics of soybean nodulation and nitrogen fixation and soil aeration environment Treatments are the same as those given in Fig. 2. V5: 5-trifoliate period; R2: full bloom; R5: beginning seed. SRR: soil respiration rate; SO: soil oxygen content; NN: number of nodules; ND: dry weight of nodules; NA: nitrogenase activity; NP: nitrogen fixation potential. Different colors represent different planting patterns."

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