Nitrogen source contribution in sugarcane-inoculated plants with diazotrophic bacterias under urea-N fertigation management
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Although Brazilian sugarcane crops use lower nitrogen rates when compared to other producing countries, the biological nitrogen fixation (BFN) could be performed aiming to reduce costs, since almost all nitrogen fertilization used in Brazil is imported. BFN can occur in sugarcane; however, its role in non-leguminous plants is controversial. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the nitrogen source contribution (using N isotope N-15 technique) along a growing period in sugarcane plants under different management (diazotrophic bacteria inoculation and N fertigation rates). The natural abundance of nitrogen isotope (N-15) abundance in +1 leaves of fourth ratoon cultivar SP 80-3280 was used to indicate the comparative importance of N sources, including BFN for sugarcane nutrition. The treatments were irrigated with two levels of nitrogen fertilizer 50 and 100kgha(-1) (urea source), including a control without fertilizer, with (I) and without (NI) inoculation of nitrogen-fixing bacterias. The bacteria cocktail used consisted of five strains: Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus, Herbaspirillum seropedicae, H. rubrisubalbicans, Burkholderia tropica and Azospirillum amazonense. Although the nitrogen content in +1 leaves, the above ground dry matter, cane yield and stalk sugar content expanded by increasing nitrogen fertilizer rates, no significant interactions between nitrogen-fixing bacteria inoculation and nitrogen fertilizer rates were observed. In the treatment without N fertilizer application, no differences in N-15 parts per thousand (per thousand) values between sugarcane-inoculated and sugarcane-non-inoculated sugarcane leaves was found. The temporal variation of N-15 parts per thousand in sugarcane +1 leaves indicated that nitrogen content and N-15 parts per thousand values decreased during the phenological development stages and that the main sources of nitrogen for sugarcane were from synthetic fertilizer and mineralization of nitrogen from soil organic matter.