Nitrate Uptake and Nitrogen Use Efficiency by Kentucky Bluegrass Cultivars

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  • 1 Department of Plant Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881-0804
  • | 2 Department of Plant Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881-0804

Efficient utilization of fertilizer-nitrogen (N) by turfgrasses is probably related to N uptake efficiency of roots and metabolic efficiency of absorbed N in roots and shoots. This study evaluated Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) cultivars for potential differences in nitrate uptake rate (NUR), temporal variation in NUR, and the relationship between NUR and N use efficiency (NUE), defined as grams dry matter per gram N. Six cultivars were propagated from tillers of seeded plants, grown in silica sand, mowed weekly, and watered daily with a complete nutrient solution containing 1.0 mm nitrate. A nutrient depletion method from an initial nitrate concentration of 0.5 mm was used to determine NUR of 5-month-old plants. NUR (μmol·h-1 per plant) of the six cultivars ranked as follows: `Blacksburg' > `Conni' > `Dawn' > `Eclipse' = `Barzan' > `Gnome'. When NUR was based on root weight, `Conni' ranked highest; when NUR was based on root length, surface, or volume, `Eclipse' ranked highest. Averaged across cultivars, NUR on the second day was greater than NUR for the first day of nitrate exposure. Temporal variation was greatest in `Blacksburg', while none was noted in `Conni' or `Eclipse'. Cultivar differences in NUE were significant in fibrous roots, rhizomes, and leaf sheaths, but not in leaf blades and thatch. Total nitrate uptake was positively related to total N recovered and total plant dry matter, but NUR based on root weight was negatively correlated with NUE of the whole plant.

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