Rhizosphere Processes and Nutrient Management for Improving Nutrient-use Efficiency in Macadamia Production

in HortScience

Macadamia (Macadamia spp.) has been widely planted in southern China and has been now developed into an important industry. China has the largest area of macadamia plantation in the world but provides only 3% production of the world. Current farming systems have a fertilizer surplus of about 73 g of nitrogen (N), 103 g of phosphorus (P), and 24 g of potassium (K) per macadamia plant per year in southern China. Optimizing fertilization recommended for macadamia improves production by about 5 kg per plant. Macadamia develops cluster roots (i.e., proteoid roots) in a P-starvation environment. Overuse of P fertilizers restrains the development of cluster roots as well as rhizosphere processes, thus decreasing the P-use efficiency. Excessive fertilization, especially P fertilization, is one of the major limiting factors in China macadamia production. This study is the first to analyze current management practices and then discuss approaches of improving nutrient management based on the specific root biology of macadamia. For a sustainable macadamia industry, it is imperative to develop appropriate nutrient management by integrating root-zone soil nutrient supply, fertilizer application, and rhizosphere processes.

Contributor Notes

This paper was presented as a part of the 2017 International Macadamia Research Symposium, 13–14 Sept. 2017, in Big Island, HI.

This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFD0200200, 2016YFE0101100), National Natural Science Foundation of China (31772402, 31330070), and Yun-Tian-Hua Group special funding of Yunnan in China (YTHZWYJY2016007).

Corresponding author. E-mail: jbshen@cau.edu.cn.

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    Planting area of macadamia in China (A) and the Yunnan province (B) in 2015. Yunnan has the largest planting area in China, including the Lincang, Dehong, Puer, Baoshan, and Xishuangbanna districts. The data of planting areas were collected from Yunnan Institute of Tropical Crops and the General Station of Forestry Technology Extension in Yunnan Province.

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    Macadamia planting area and nut production (in-shell) in China from 2008 to 2016 (A) (data from Yunnan Institute of Tropical Crops), and percentage of macadamia production (kernel) in different countries (B) (International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, 2016/2017). The data of China’s planting areas and production of macadamia from 2008 to 2016 were collected from the literature (He et al., 2017) and the General Station of Forestry Technology Extension in Yunnan Province. The data regarding production (kernel) in different countries were collected from International Nut and Dried Fruit Council.

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    The surplus of fertilizer nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in macadamia production in China. The surplus values represented the difference between the current farming practice (n = 39) and optimal requirements. Each value is the mean of 39 replicates (±se). Note: The data of farmers’ fertilizer inputs (314 g of N, 127 g of P, 247 g of K) in the orchards were collected from our farmer’s survey across 39 farm field sites in southern China (covering about 5000 ha). We estimated the optimal nutrient requirements of macadamia (241 g of N, 24 g of P, 223 g of K) based on the amounts of nutrients removed from soil by harvested nuts and additional growth of canopy per year for mature macadamia trees. Dry mass and concentration of nutrients in macadamia roots, stem, and leaves come from Chen et al. (2010, 2016). This paper used a target yield of macadamia nuts of 35 kg of fresh weight per bearing tree. Total nutrient contents in 100 kg of fresh nuts were based on the previous report by Nagao et al. (1992). The surplus of fertilizer nutrients N, P, and K (farmers’ input – macadamia requirement) in macadamia production is 73 g of N, 103 g of P, and 24 g of K.

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    Effects of P supply on root growth and root exudation of macadamia. Cluster roots of macadamia grown at 10 μM P supply (A), the number of cluster roots (B), and organic acid exudation of macadamia roots (C) at 100 μM P (high P) and 10 μM P (low P) supplies, respectively. Each value is the mean of four replicates (±se), and different letters denote significant differences among treatments (P ≤ 0.05). FW = fresh weight; P = phosphorus.

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    Strategies of rhizosphere management for macadamia. The key components include 1) optimizing nutrient input to keep a proper nutrient supply intensity in the root zone, 2) using localized nutrient supply by band fertilization to stimulate root proliferation and rhizosphere effects through optimizing nutrient placement and compositions, and 3) exploring root/rhizosphere biological interactions to maximize nutrient-use efficiency.

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    Effects of P fertilization on root growth of macadamia. The farmers’ practice fertilizer input (A, C) and optimized fertilization treatment (localized supply of lower P) (B, D), and the treatment effects on root growth (C, D) of macadamia in Yunnan, South China (lat. 21°58′44″N, long. 100°37′23″E). P = phosphorus.

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    Macadamia production of farmer practice and optimal fertilization. Different letters denote a significant difference between them (P ≤ 0.05). Note: The production data were based on a field comparative experiment between farmers’ practices and the recommended optimal fertilization. The optimal fertilization was set according to the nutrient requirements (241 g of nitrogen, 24 g of phosphorus, 223 g of potassium per tree annually) and localized supply recommended. The experiment was conducted in Yunnan, South China (lat. 21°58′44″N, long. 100°37′23″E). The experimental plot was 1334 m2 and covered 40 bearing trees. The fresh nuts were harvested and yields were recorded for optimal treatments and farmers’ fertilization, respectively.

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    Macadamia intercropping with maize (A), associated infrared temperature map (B), and the temperature of monocrop and intercropping (C). Different letters in (C) denote significant differences between monocrop and intercropping or with and without cover crops (P ≤ 0.05) Note: a forward-looking infrared camera was used to record the images of maize/macadamia intercropping. The “FLIR Tools” was used to analyze the images. We chose five spots of maize and bare land, respectively, to calculate the average temperature values. The t test was performed using SAS statistical software (8.1; SAS Institute, Inc., Cary, NC). Significant differences among means were separated by least significant difference (P ≤ 0.05).

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