Modelling plant yield and quality response of fresh-market spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) to mineral nitrogen availability in the root zone

  • Daniele Massa | daniele.massa@crea.gov.it CREA Research Centre for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Pescia (PT), Italy. http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3179-0415
  • Luca Incrocci Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
  • Luca Botrini Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
  • Giulia Carmassi Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
  • Cecilia Diara Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
  • Pasquale Delli Paoli Coop Agricoltura 2000, Venturina (LI), Italy.
  • Giorgio Incrocci Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
  • Rita Maggini Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
  • Alberto Pardossi Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Abstract

Spinach is one of the most important green-leafy vegetables, consumed worldwide, and its intake is beneficial for human beings. In this crop, produce yield and quality are closely related to plant nitrogen (N) nutrition. A precise supply of N is also essential for high environmental and economic sustainability. Main aims of the work were: i) to establish relationships between produce yield or quality and mineral N availability in the root zone; and ii) to define an optimal mineral N level to be maintained in the root zone for spinach. Eight experiments were carried out during a four-year-long period under typical Mediterranean climate conditions. Different amounts of N fertilisers were supplied leading to twenty different levels of mineral N in the root zone. Experimental measurements included climate parameters, plant growth, tissue and soil analyses, produce yield and quality indicators. A segmented linear model significantly represented the relationship between crop yield (1.7 to 21.7 t ha–1) and soil mineral N concentration (7.6 to 41.0 mg kg–1). Basing on this model, an optimal mineral N threshold was fixed at 23.4 mg kg–1. Above this threshold, crop yield did not show any significant variations as well as tissue characteristics and produce quality. Plants grown under suboptimal N levels showed reduction in growth, tissue mineral (nutrients) content, and SPAD index. The proposed models could be implemented in fertilisation protocols for the optimization of N supply and the estimation of spinach growth and yield.

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Published
2018-08-30
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Original Articles
Keywords:
Fertilisation, leaf nitrates, leafy vegetable, nitrogen nutrition index, photothermal units, SPAD index.
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How to Cite
Massa, D., Incrocci, L., Botrini, L., Carmassi, G., Diara, C., Delli Paoli, P., Incrocci, G., Maggini, R., & Pardossi, A. (2018). Modelling plant yield and quality response of fresh-market spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) to mineral nitrogen availability in the root zone. Italian Journal of Agronomy, 13(3), 248-259. https://doi.org/10.4081/ija.2018.1120