[Effects of reduced N application rate on yield and nutrient uptake and utilization in maize-soybean relay strip intercropping system].
A field experiment with three N application rates (0, 180, 240 N kg x hm(-2), representing zero, reduced and conventional N application, respectively) and three planting patterns (maize monoculture, soybean monoculture and maize-soybean relay strip intercropping) was conducted to reveal the effects of cropping patterns and N application rates on yield, nutrient uptake and nitrogen use efficiency of maize and soybean. The results showed that the grain yield, N, P and K uptake and harvest index of the intercropped maize reduced slightly compared with the monoculture maize, however these indices of the intercropped soybean increased significantly compared with the monoculture. With the increase in nitrogen fertilizer application, the excellence of relay strip intercropping was weakened in the maize-soybean intercropping system. The grain yield, economic coefficient, N, P and K uptake, harvest index, N agronomy efficiency and N uptake efficiency of maize and soybean increased significantly at the reduced nitrogen rate (180 N kg x hm(-2)), but the rate of soil N contribution declined, compared with the conventional rate of N application by local farmers (240 N kg x hm(-2)). In the reduced nitrogen rate treatment, total soil N and P contents of the maize strip reduced, whereas the total soil N, P and K contents of soybean strip and the total K content of maize strip increased compared with the zero N application treatment. With the reduced N application, the annual total grain yield, N, P and K uptake of above-ground biomass in the maize-soybean relay strip intercropping system were higher than in the monoculture, and the land equivalent ratio (LER) was 2.28. N uptake efficiency of maize in the relay strip intercropping system was 20.2% higher than in the maize monoculture, and the index of soybean was 30.5% lower than in the monoculture. The rate of soil N contribution in the relay strip intercropping system was 20.0% and 8.8% lower than in the maize and soybean monoculture, respectively. The reduced N application in the maize-soybean relay strip intercropping system was helpful to promote annual grain yield and improve N utilization efficiency.