Special Issue "Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production"

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472). This special issue belongs to the section "Agricultural Soils".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Jose L. Gabriel
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
INIA-Dpto. Medio Ambiente y Agronomía Ctra. de la Coruña km.7,5 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: sustainable cropping systems; nitrogen use efficiency; water use efficiency; soil; optical sensors; nitrogen losses; fertilization; cover crops
Dr. Diana Martín-Lammerding
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
INIA-Dpto. Medio Ambiente Ctra. de la Coruña km.7,5 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: soil; sustainability; crop production; organic matter; nitrogen

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce this Special Issue of Agriculture “Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production". Water and nutrient availability remain, globally, the most limiting crop growth factors. The additional demand for food by the growing population and availability limitations will require that we increase resource use efficiency of water and nutrients for crops. The efficient management of water and nutrients (without underestimating the role of plant genetics) has been identified as crucial for closing the yield gap of main crops. Sustainable intensification of agriculture should rely, therefore, on defining management strategies that increase water and nitrogen use efficiency.

We would like to invite researchers from a large number of countries to submit their papers dealing with water and nutrient management in different agroecosystems with different problems. We welcome original manuscripts, which might help us understand the processes of water movement in the non-saturated zone, nutrient uptake by crops, nutrient loss (e.g., lixiviation, runoff, gas emission); the utilization of new application equipment in the field, proximal/remote sensing implementation, novel approaches, and methodology, and applications of models are also welcome.

Dr. Jose L. Gabriel
Dr. Diana Martín-Lammerding
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agriculture is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Water management
  • Nutrients loss
  • Lixiviation
  • Inhibitors
  • Nitrogen cycling
  • Diffuse contamination
  • Soil management
  • Crop yield
  • Food security
  • Models
  • Climate change

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Article
Valorization of a Bio-Stabilized Municipal Solid Waste Amendment for Faba Bean (Vicia faba L.) Fertilization
Agriculture 2021, 11(11), 1109; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11111109 - 06 Nov 2021
Viewed by 428
Abstract
The valorization of municipal solid waste (MSW) can serve as an organic amendment in agriculture while reducing solid waste accumulation in the environment. This research aimed to evaluate the valorization of a bio-stabilized MSW amendment for the production of faba bean (Vicia [...] Read more.
The valorization of municipal solid waste (MSW) can serve as an organic amendment in agriculture while reducing solid waste accumulation in the environment. This research aimed to evaluate the valorization of a bio-stabilized MSW amendment for the production of faba bean (Vicia faba L.) crop. For this purpose, biomass production and growth, as well as, seed yield and seed components, seed nutrient accumulation, plant pigments, soil properties, and microorganisms were evaluated in comparison with faba bean mineral fertilization in a greenhouse experiment. The results demonstrated that the bio-stabilized MSW amendment achieved similar biomass production, plant growth, seed yield, nitrogen and protein content, and pigment content as the mineral fertilization treatment. On the other hand, the organic fertilization did not exhibit significant effects on the yield components number of pods per plant, and number of seeds per pod, and nutrient accumulation in seeds with respect to mineral and control treatments in both soils. Sandy and clay soil properties were improved in the organic treatments in comparison with the control soils by increasing soil organic carbon, nitrogen, and other soil nutrients, and providing a suitable pH for faba bean growth. Additionally, biological activity was favored by applying this source of organic fertilizer, enriching the nematode community. Reusing bio-stabilized MSW for agronomical purposes can add value to this waste product, serving as an effective alternative to mineral fertilizers in faba bean cultivation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production)
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Article
A Comparison of IPCC Guidelines and Allocation Methods to Estimate the Environmental Impact of Barley Production in the Basque Country through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
Agriculture 2021, 11(10), 1005; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11101005 - 14 Oct 2021
Viewed by 403
Abstract
This study aimed to estimate the environmental impact of barley production in the Basque Country, Northern Spain, using cradle-to-gate life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology, as well as to assess how methodological choices (i.e., the use of IPCC 2019 Guidelines versus allocation methods) can [...] Read more.
This study aimed to estimate the environmental impact of barley production in the Basque Country, Northern Spain, using cradle-to-gate life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology, as well as to assess how methodological choices (i.e., the use of IPCC 2019 Guidelines versus allocation methods) can influence such estimation. The production of mineral fertiliser and the direct emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) resulting from the application of nitrogen (N) fertiliser were identified as the two main contributors (40% and 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions, respectively) to the environmental impact of barley production. Pertaining to GHG emissions themselves, the use of calcium ammonium nitrate fertiliser was found to be the main contributor. Therefore, the optimization of N fertiliser application was established as a key process to reduce the environmental impact of barley production. The fertiliser-related release of N and phosphorous (P) to the environment was the main contributor to particulate matter formation, terrestrial acidification, and terrestrial and marine eutrophication. The incorporation of environmental data on NH3, NOx, NO3, and PO43− to the LCA led to a more accurate estimation of barley production impact. A sensitivity analysis showed that the use of economic allocation, compared to mass allocation, increased the estimation of climate change-related impact by 80%. In turn, the application of the IPCC 2019 Refinement Guidelines increased this estimation by a factor of 1.12 and 0.86 in wet regions and decreased in dry regions, respectively. Our results emphasise the importance of the choice of methodology, adapted to the specific case under study, when estimating the environmental impact of food production systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production)
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Article
Irrigation with Treated Wastewater as an Alternative Nutrient Source (for Crop): Numerical Simulation
Agriculture 2021, 11(10), 946; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11100946 - 29 Sep 2021
Viewed by 445
Abstract
From a global perspective, drought is a well-known manifestation of climate change. The search for alternative sources of water also brings uncertainties and risks, for example, in relation to wastewater irrigation. We asked ourselves whether and how supplemental irrigation with pre-treated wastewater would [...] Read more.
From a global perspective, drought is a well-known manifestation of climate change. The search for alternative sources of water also brings uncertainties and risks, for example, in relation to wastewater irrigation. We asked ourselves whether and how supplemental irrigation with pre-treated wastewater would affect the subsoil or groundwater quality. We constructed semi-operational models that were loaded with wastewater in a controlled manner over three years of observations. Ammonium nitrogen (NH4+-N) pollution is one of the monitored parameters in wastewater discharge. In specific situations and under strict operating conditions, it can be assumed that ammonia nitrogen may not be a significant problem for groundwater. Already at a depth of 0.5 m below ground level, the average nitrogen levels are below 0.02 mg/L at an irrigation rate of approximately 15.5 mm/day. When monitoring total phosphorus (TP), these values are reduced with more variability—depending on the plant species at the surface, ranging from 0.17 to 0.95 mg/L. The measured values are used to calibrate the numerical model, or to determine the reaction parameters that enter the governing equation to describe the distribution of the solution in the soil environment. The results show an acceptable compliance between the model and real measurements, it will be possible to use them in practice for the design of wastewater irrigation systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production)
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Article
Nitrogen Fertilizer Efficiency Determined by the 15N Dilution Technique in Maize Followed or Not by a Cover Crop in Mediterranean Chile
Agriculture 2021, 11(8), 721; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11080721 - 29 Jul 2021
Viewed by 527
Abstract
Nitrogen (N) in a maize crop is a determining yield factor, but its negative impact on the environment is also known. Therefore, it is necessary to propose mitigation strategies that allow an improvement in the N fertilizer efficiency (NFE), such as the use [...] Read more.
Nitrogen (N) in a maize crop is a determining yield factor, but its negative impact on the environment is also known. Therefore, it is necessary to propose mitigation strategies that allow an improvement in the N fertilizer efficiency (NFE), such as the use of cover crops (CC) and the adjustment of the fertilizer dose. The objective of the study was to determine NFE using 15N isotopic techniques and nitrate (NO3) leaching in a maize–fallow versus a maize–CC rotation with optimal and excessive doses of N in the Mediterranean area of Chile. The treatments were a combination of crop rotation (maize–fallow versus maize–CC of Lolium multiflorum) with the optimal dose of N (250 kg ha−1) or excessive dose (400 kg ha−1). We found that the optimal dose of maize–CC rotation contributed to reducing the losses of N by leaching and improving the NFE. Using the optimal dose decreased the dissolved inorganic N (DIN) emission intensity by 50% compared to the excessive doses. Even if grain yield was higher (19 t ha−1) when applying the excessive N dose, the NFE (28%) was lower than when applying the optimal dose (40%). In the maize–CC rotation with optimal dose, yield was 17 Mg ha−1. The excessive N dose generated higher DIN content at the end of the maize season (177 kg N ha−1). In conclusion, replacing the traditional autumn–winter fallow in the maize monoculture with a CC with optimal N dose contributed to improving NFE and reducing N leaching in a Mediterranean agricultural system. Consequently, it is a strategy to consider as it has positive advantages in soil and N management, helping to reduce diffuse pollution of surface and groundwater bodies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production)
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Article
Organic Amendment vs. Mineral Fertilization under Minimum Tillage: Changes in Soil Nutrients, Soil Organic Matter, Biological Properties and Yield after 10 Years
Agriculture 2021, 11(8), 700; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11080700 - 26 Jul 2021
Viewed by 1011
Abstract
Conservation tillage is recognized as a sustainable management practice, however its combination with organic residues application still constitutes a challenge in some areas. A field trial was established in a semiarid agro-ecosystem to study the effects of different crop nutrient sources under minimum [...] Read more.
Conservation tillage is recognized as a sustainable management practice, however its combination with organic residues application still constitutes a challenge in some areas. A field trial was established in a semiarid agro-ecosystem to study the effects of different crop nutrient sources under minimum tillage (MT). Application of organic amendments at the beginning of a five-year crop rotation (ORG treatment) was evaluated and compared to the control plot where wheat was continuously grown with traditional mineral fertilization (MIN treatment). In addition to wheat yield and biomass, several soil properties were measured (pH, soil nutrients (i.e., Olsen P, exchangeable K, and mineral N), soil organic matter (i.e., C, N, C/N ratio), potentially mineralizable nitrogen, total microbial activity and heavy metals) throughout the 10-year study. The wheat yield was significantly higher under the ORG treatment than under the MIN, although climatic conditions (e.g., rainfall) exerted a great influence too. The organic amendments increased soil nutrients content mainly right after their application but the levels were adequate for the whole crop rotation. Plots under organic amendment application did not accumulate significantly more soil organic matter than those mineral-fertilized, probably due to the low protective capacity of coarse-textured soils. The application of organic amendments under MT resulted in a promising management agro-ecosystem compared to the mineral fertilized because crop nutrients came from organic wastes, no herbicides were applied while the yields were higher. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production)
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Article
Urease Inhibitors Effects on the Nitrogen Use Efficiency in a Maize–Wheat Rotation with or without Water Deficit
Agriculture 2021, 11(7), 684; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11070684 - 20 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 648
Abstract
The use of urease inhibitors in irrigated systems decreases both soil ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3) availability, and, thus, could be an easy tool to reduce N loss due to ammonia volatilization and NO3 leaching. [...] Read more.
The use of urease inhibitors in irrigated systems decreases both soil ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3) availability, and, thus, could be an easy tool to reduce N loss due to ammonia volatilization and NO3 leaching. The main goal of this experiment was to assess the effect of urease inhibitors on N use efficiency, N losses, and their economic impact in a maize-wheat field experiment. In this study, 10 treatments were compared, combining the urea fertilizer with or without urease inhibitor, applied in one or two dressings, and under optimal or sub-optimal irrigation. A single application of urease inhibitor (IN1d), coupled with the conventional urea, helped to reduce the nitrate leaching risk both during the maize period (even when compared to the two dressing treatment) and after harvest. In addition, this improvement was achieved together with an increase in economic benefit, even when compared with the application of the same amount of regular urea split into two dressings. Under low water availability systems, the benefits of applying urease inhibitors increased with respect to the application of regular urea, making this technique a very promising strategy for adaptation to climate change in arid and semiarid regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production)
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Article
Nitrogen and Phosphorus Addition to Soil Improves Seed Yield, Foliar Stomatal Conductance, and the Photosynthetic Response of Rapeseed (Brassica napus L.)
Agriculture 2021, 11(6), 483; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11060483 - 24 May 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 721
Abstract
The effects of nitrogen and phosphorus levels on the physiological traits, yield, and seed yield of rapeseed (Brassica napus L.), were studied in a farm research project of Zanjan University. Three levels of nitrogen (0, 100, and 200 kg/ha) and three levels [...] Read more.
The effects of nitrogen and phosphorus levels on the physiological traits, yield, and seed yield of rapeseed (Brassica napus L.), were studied in a farm research project of Zanjan University. Three levels of nitrogen (0, 100, and 200 kg/ha) and three levels of phosphorus (0, 75, and 150 kg/ha) were considered. The results showed that an increase in nitrogen level caused an increase in the leaf chlorophyll content so that the application of 200 kg/ha of nitrogen increased the chlorophyll content of the leaves until the mid-grain filling stage. Nitrogen application lowered leaf stomatal conductance in the early flowering stage whereas the stomatal conductance was increased during the late flowering stage. Nitrogen application (100 and 200 kg/ha) also increased the quantum yield of photosystem II. On the other hand, with the application of 150 kg/ha and 75 kg/ha of phosphorus, the leaf stomatal conductance and the quantum yield of photosystem II in the early flowering stage increased respectively. The results showed that the application of 200 kg/ha of nitrogen and 75 kg/ha of phosphorus significantly increased seed and oil yield compared to the control. In addition, the number of siliques per plant and the weight of 1000 seeds showed an increasing trend that was affected by nitrogen and phosphorus levels. This study demonstrated that nitrogen enhanced the chlorophyll content, leaf area, and consequently, the quantum yield of photosystem II. Nitrogen also augmented the seed filling duration, seed yield, and oil yield by increasing gas exchange. As a result, the application of 100 kg/ha of nitrogen together with 75 kg/ha phosphorus showed the greatest effect on the qualitative and quantitative yield of rapeseed. However, the application of 200 kg/ha of nitrogen alone or in combination with different levels of phosphorus did not significantly increase many of the studied traits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production)
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Article
Integral Assessment of Organic Fertilization on a Camelina sativa Rotation under Mediterranean Conditions
Agriculture 2021, 11(4), 355; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11040355 - 15 Apr 2021
Viewed by 669
Abstract
The goal of this study was to provide quantitative agronomic data and environmental performance through a life cycle assessment of camelina in a crop rotation. For this purpose, camelina [Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz] was included in a crop rotation (camelina-barley [Hordeum [...] Read more.
The goal of this study was to provide quantitative agronomic data and environmental performance through a life cycle assessment of camelina in a crop rotation. For this purpose, camelina [Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz] was included in a crop rotation (camelina-barley [Hordeum vulgare (L.)]-camelina) fertilized with two organic fertilizers (dewatered sludge and composted sludge) during three growing seasons (2015–2018). Three treatments were considered in this experimental study of 0.018 ha: (1) Fertilization with composted sludge (15 t ha−1), (2) fertilization with dewatered sludge (35 t ha−1), and (3) control treatment without fertilization. Results showed that camelina’s yield was affected by climatic conditions, ranging from 0.9 to 1.4 t ha−1 in the first season (2015/2016) and the third season (2017/2018 and did not present significant differences between treatments. The yield components with a positive response to organic fertilization were number of silicles, number of seeds per plant, and thousand-seed weight, with an average increase compared to the control of 23.7%, 16.5%, and 18.5%, respectively. A negative correlation was observed between organic fertilization and total fat content, contrary to the increase in protein content observed with organic fertilization. The environmental assessment of this crop rotation revealed that fertilization and transport were the main hotspots. Despite the undesirable weather limitations, this study showed a positive response of camelina’s yield components and seed quality to organic fertilization. By applying these organic fertilizers, it may be possible to obtain favorable camelina yields and promote waste valorization. To minimize the environmental impacts of this crop rotation with camelina, the main recommendations could be to reduce the distances between the dewatering and composting sites and the field and optimize fertilization rates. Further research is needed to determine the application of these organic fertilizers in the long term. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production)
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Article
Efficacy of Irrigation Interval after Anthesis on Grain Quality, Alkali Digestion, and Gel Consistency of Rice
Agriculture 2021, 11(4), 325; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11040325 - 07 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1146
Abstract
The management of amylose and protein contents and cooking quality are the main challenges in rice macronutrients and quality improvement. This experiment was conducted to examine the rice grain quality, alkali digestion, and gel consistency responses to irrigation interval after anthesis. Three rice [...] Read more.
The management of amylose and protein contents and cooking quality are the main challenges in rice macronutrients and quality improvement. This experiment was conducted to examine the rice grain quality, alkali digestion, and gel consistency responses to irrigation interval after anthesis. Three rice varieties (K1, K3, and K4) were subjected to different irrigation intervals (1, 2, and 3 d) after anthesis. The findings of this study showed that the protein content was markedly increased from 6.53–6.63% to 9.93–10.16%, whilst the amylose content was decreased significantly from 22.00–22.43% to 16.33–17.56% under stressed treatments at irrigation intervals, whilst the quantity of fatty acids was not affected. The 3-d irrigation interval recorded the highest protein content but the lowest amylose value. In addition, this treatment shows lower gelatinization temperature, but it is negatively associated with hard gel consistency under irrigation interval. This study highlights that the water management following a 3-d irrigation interval from anthesis is a useful and simple treatment to improve rice nutrients and grain cooking quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production)
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Article
Magnesium Supplementation Alters Leaf Metabolic Pathways for Higher Flavor Quality of Oolong Tea
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 120; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11020120 - 02 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 766
Abstract
Oolong tea, one of the most famous tea beverages in China, contains specialized metabolites contributing to rich flavors and human health. Accumulation patterns of such metabolites and underlying regulatory mechanisms significantly vary under different growth conditions. To optimize quality and yield while minimizing [...] Read more.
Oolong tea, one of the most famous tea beverages in China, contains specialized metabolites contributing to rich flavors and human health. Accumulation patterns of such metabolites and underlying regulatory mechanisms significantly vary under different growth conditions. To optimize quality and yield while minimizing environmental effects, three treatments were designed in this study: Conventional fertilization, optimized fertilization, and optimized fertilization supplemented with magnesium (Mg). We investigated the yield, taste quality, primary and secondary metabolites of oolong tea, and found that a substantial reduction in chemical fertilizers (nutrient optimization by reducing 43% N, 58% P2O5 and 55% K2O) did not affect the tea yield in this study. Interestingly, Mg fertilization is an important factor influencing amino acid and sugar accumulation in oolong tea, resulting in higher concentrations of total free amino acids and a lower ratio of tea polyphenols (TP) to free amino acids (FAA). Gas chromatography-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC-TOF-MS) and liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS) combined multivariate analyses revealed distinct features of metabolite accumulation in leaves of three different treatments, as indicated by 34 differentially accumulated characteristic compounds. The levels of serine, aspartic acid, isoleucine, phenylalanine, theanine, and proline were reduced by fertilizer optimization and increased by Mg supplementation. Mg particularly promoted theanine accumulation favoring a stronger umami taste of oolong tea, while decreasing astringency and bitter metabolites. Thus, Mg application paves a new path for tea quality improvement in Southern China where Mg deficiency in the soil is a frequent limiting factor for crop production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production)
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Article
Potassium and Nitrogen Fertilization vs. Trace Element Content of Maize (Zea mays L.)
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 96; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11020096 - 24 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 903
Abstract
This research was conducted to study the impact of potassium and nitrogen fertilizers on the trace element content of maize (Zea mays L.). Higher doses of potassium fertilizer led to a linear increase in cadmium, lead, nickel, zinc, and manganese content, and [...] Read more.
This research was conducted to study the impact of potassium and nitrogen fertilizers on the trace element content of maize (Zea mays L.). Higher doses of potassium fertilizer led to a linear increase in cadmium, lead, nickel, zinc, and manganese content, and to lower Fe:Zn and Fe:Mn ratios. Moreover, cobalt level increased in maize upon the lower doses and decreased upon the higher doses of potassium. The impact of potassium fertilizer on the levels of other elements (iron and chromium) in maize was determined by the fertilizer dose and, in particular, by the supply of additional nitrogen. Potassium fertilization led to a higher bioconcentration (BCFactor) of most of the trace elements in the aerial parts of maize. Nitrogen fertilization led to increased contents of manganese and iron, increased Fe:Zn and Fe:Mn ratios, and decreased contents of cadmium, lead, nickel, and cobalt in maize. Compared with potassium, nitrogen fertilization produced less consistent changes in bioconcentration factors for trace elements in the aerial parts of maize. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production)
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