Effect of Nutrient Management on Yield and Yield Components of Maize (Zea mays L.) influenced by Different Tillage Systems

Document Type : Scientific - Research


1 Agronomy Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Shahrood University of Technology, Shahrood, Iran

2 Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Agriculture, Shahrood University of Technology, Shahrood, Iran

3 Department of Agrotechnology, Faculty of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran.


Conventional tillage systems disturb the soil in the long term and obstruct farmland sustainability. Hence, adoption of conservation tillage systems, for example no tillage and reduced tillage has been widely accepted in the last two decades.
The use of chemical fertilizers has increased in intensive farming systems, but this brings with environmental problems. Nowadays, due to the problems of chemical fertilizers, the use of organic fertilizers such as manure and biochar has been more prevalent in agriculture. Biochar is the product of incomplete combustion of biomass in the absence of oxygen. Its presence in the soil is reported to improve physical and chemical properties and crop yield.
Materials and Methods
In order to evaluate the effect of nutrition management on yield and yield components of corn (Zea mays L.) under different tillage systems, a field experiment was carried out at research farm of Shahrood University of Technology in 2015. The experiment was conducted as a split plot arranged in a randomized complete block design with three replications. The main plots were tillage systems (conventional tillage and reduced tillage) and subplots were control, chemical fertilizer (300 kg.ha-1 urea and 100 kg.ha-1 triple superphosphate), manure (20 t.ha-1), biochar (20 t.ha-1), chemical fertilizer + manure (150 kg.ha-1 urea and 50 kg.ha-1 triple superphosphate and 10 t.ha-1 of manure), chemical fertilizer + biochar (150 kg.ha-1 urea and 50 kg.ha-1 triple superphosphate and 20 t.ha-1 biochar) and manure + biochar (20 t.ha-1 biochar and 10 t.ha-1 of manure). After adding manure, biochar and triple superphosphate, corn was planted on 10 days and urea was used in stages three. At full maturity 10 plants were randomly selected and the biological yield, grain yield, 100-grain weight, ear weight, number of row per ear, number of grains per row, ear length, ear diameter, height and stem diameter were measured.
Results and Discussion
The results showed that the effect of tillage systems and the interaction of tillage systems and nutrient management were not significant on any of the measured traits. Tillage systems affect yield mainly by altering water and nitrate content in soil. The water content and nitrate concentration in the soil had no significant difference between tillage systems (data not shown). As well as tillage systems are site-specific, so the degree of their success depends on soil, climate and management practices. The nutrition management had significant effect on grain nutrients, grain protein, ear characteristics, 100-grain weight, biological yield, grain yield and harvest index. The highest and lowest grain nitrogen, ear weight, biological yield and grain yield were obtained in chemical fertilizer and control, respectively. The chemical fertilizer + manure increased grain nitrogen, ear weight, biological yield and grain yield 13.89, 56.19, 47.04 and 60.41 percent compared to the control, respectively. As well as chemical fertilizer + biochar increased grain nitrogen, ear weight, biological yield and grain yield compared to control 14.81, 52.78, 42.69 and 56.32 percent, respectively. Crops respond to nitrogen fertilization mainly by increasing aboveground and root biomass production. As a result of increasing nitrogen doses, the photosynthetic activity, leaf area index (LAI) and leaf area density (LAD) increase. Providing organic matter and nutrients create better conditions for photosynthesis and plant growth. The increased maize yield in biochar amended soil could be attributed to increased nutrient availability and to improved soil physical properties indicated by decreased soil bulk density.
Based on results, the effect of nutrition management was significant on height, stem diameter, grain nutrients, grain protein, ear characteristics, 100-grain weight, biological yield, grain yield and harvest index. Maximum and minimum of stem diameter, grain nitrogen, grain protein, ear characteristics, 100-grain weight, biological yield, grain yield and harvest index were obtained in chemical and control, respectively. Although using of chemical fertilizer had the highest amount of traits, it had no significant difference with chemical fertilizer + manure and chemical fertilizer + biochar. Also, there were no significant effect between conventional tillage and reduced tillage. Therefore, due to the excessive use of nitrogen fertilizer and also due to the negative effects of conventional tillage on the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil, it can be concluded that use of reduced tillage and chemical fertilizer + manure and chemical fertilizer + biochar for corn production is recommended for similar conditions with the study area to reduce both chemical fertilizer and environmental pollution.


Afzali Gorouh, H., Asoodar M.A., and Khodarahmpoor, Z. 2012. Effect of irrigation method and tillage level on water use efficiency and corn grain yield (Zea mays L.) in Kerman. Water and Soil Science 22: 47-58. (In Persian with English Summary)
Agegnehu, G., Nelson, P.N., and Bird, M.I. 2016. Crop yield, plant nutrient uptake and soil physicochemical properties under organic soil amendments and nitrogen fertilization on Nitisols. Soil and Tillage Research 160: 1-13.
Alvarez, R., and Steinbach, H.S. 2009. A review of the effects of tillage systems on some soil physical properties, water content, nitrate availability and crops yield in the Argentine Pampas. Soil and Tillage Research 104: 1-15.
Amirabadi, M., Seifi, M., Rejali, F., and Ardakani, M.R. 2012. Study the concentration of macroelements in forage mays (Zea mays L.) (SC 704) as effected by inoculation with mycorrhizal fungi and Azotobacter chroococcum under different levels of nitrogen. Journal of Agroecology 4: 33-40. (In Persian with English Summary)
Bouwman, A.F., Boumans, L.J.M., and Batjes, N.H. 2002. Emissions of N2O and NO from fertilized fields: Summary of available measurement data. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 16: 1-13.
Chen, Y., Liu, S., Li, H., Li, X.F., Song, C.Y., Cruse, R.M., and Zhang, X.Y. 2011. Effects of conservation tillage on corn and soybean yield in the humid continental climate region of Northeast China. Soil and Tillage Research 115: 56-61.
Emami, A. 1996. Methods of plant analysis. Publication No. 982, Soil and Water Research Institute. (In Persian)
Fernandez-Ugalde, O., Virto, I., Bescansa, P., Imaz, M.J., Enrique, A., and Karlen, D.L. 2009. No-tillage improvement of soil physical quality in calcareous, degradation-prone, semiarid soils. Soil and Tillage Research 106: 29-35.
Jagadamma, S., Lal, R., Hoeft, R.G., Nafziger, E.D., and Adee, E.A. 2008. Nitrogen fertilization and cropping system impacts on soil properties and their relationship to crop yield in the central Corn Belt, USA. Soil and Tillage Research 98: 120-129.
Khadem, A., Golchin, A., Shafiei, S., and Zaree, E. 2014. Effects of manure and sulfur on nutrients uptake by corn (Zea mays L.). Agronomy Journal (Pajouhesh and Sazandegi) 103: 2-11. (In Persian with English Summary)
Khavari Khorasani,S., Golbashy, M., Azizi, F., Ashofteh Beiragi M., and Fatemi, R. 2010.Evaluation of growth traits and yield of new forage corn (Zea mays L.) single cross combinations. Journal of Agroecology 2: 335-342. (In Persian with English Summary)
Lal, R. 2006. Enhancing crop yields in the developing countries through restoration of the soil organic carbon pool in agricultural lands. Land Degradation and Development 17: 197-209.
Lehmann, J. 2007. A handful of carbon. Nature 447: 143-144.
Liu, X., Ye, Y., Liu, Y., Zhang, A., Zhang, X., Li, L., Pan, G., Kibue, G.W., Zheng, J., and Zheng, J. 2014. Sustainable biochar effects for low carbon crop production: A 5-crop season field experiment on a low fertility soil from Central China. Agricultural Systems 129: 22-29.
Majidian, M., Ghalavand, A., Karimian, N.A., and Kamgar Haghighi, A.A. 2008. Effects of moisture stress, nitrogen fertilizer, manure and integrated nitrogen and manure fertilizer on yield, yield components and water use efficiency of SC 704 corn. Journal of Science and Technology of Agriculture and Natural Resources 12: 417-432. (In Persian with English Summary)
Major, J., Rondon, M., Molina, D., Riha, S.J., and Lehmann, J. 2010. Maize yield and nutrition during 4 years after biochar application to a Colombian savanna oxisol. Plant and Soil 333: 117-128.
Maltas, A., Charles, R., Jeangros, B., and Sinaj, S. 2013. Effect of organic fertilizers and reduced-tillage on soil properties, crop nitrogen response and crop yield: Results of a 12-year experiment in Changins, Switzerland. Soil and Tillage Research 126: 11-18.
Mijangos, I., Perez, R., Albizu, I., and Garbisu, C. 2006. Effects of fertilization and tillage on soil biological parameters. Enzyme and Microbial Technology 40: 100-106.
Mohammadi, E., Asghari, H.R., Gholami, A., and Khorramdel, S. 2017. Evaluation of soil carbon management index and belowground net primary productivity of maize in different tillage and nutrient management systems. In 15th Iranian Soil Science Congress, Isfahan, Iran, 28-30 August 2017, p. 1-7. (In Persian with English Summary)
Mojab Ghasrodashti, A., Balouchi, H.R., Yadavi, A., and Ghobadi, M. 2014. Effect of different levels of municipal solid waste compost and nitrogen on some grain elements concentration of sweet corn (Zea mays L. Saccharata) and some soil properties under Marvdasht conditions. Journal of Agroecology 6: 118-129. (In Persian with English Summary)
Peng, X., Ye, L.L., Wang, C.H., Zhou, H., and Sun, B. 2011. Temperature-and duration-dependent rice straw-derived biochar: Characteristics and its effects on soil properties of an Ultisol in southern China. Soil and Tillage Research 112: 159-166.
Rasool, R., Kukal, S.S., and Hira, G.S. 2008. Soil organic carbon and physical properties as affected by long-term application of FYM and inorganic fertilizers in maize–wheat system. Soil and Tillage Research 101: 31-36.
Sadeghi, H., and Bahrani, M.J. 2002. Effects of plant density and nitrogen rates on morphological characteristics and kernel protein contents of corn (Zea mays L.). Iranian Agriculture Science 33: 403-412. (In Persian with English Summary)
Sainju, U.M., Senwo, Z.N., Nyakatawa, E.Z., Tazisong, I.A., and Reddy, K.C. 2008. Soil carbon and nitrogen sequestration as affected by long-term tillage, cropping systems, and nitrogen fertilizer sources. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 127: 234-240.
Six, J., Elliott, E.T., and Paustian, K. 1999. Aggregate and soil organic matter dynamics under conventional and no-tillage systems. Soil Science Society of America Journal 63: 1350-1358.
Sukartono, W.H.U., Kusuma, Z., and Nugroho, W.H. 2011. Soil fertility status, nutrient uptake, and maize (Zea mays L.) yield following biochar and cattle manure application on sandy soils of Lombok, Indonesia. Journal of Tropical Agriculture 49: 47-52.
Tabatabaei, S.A., Shakeri, E., and Nasiri, H. 2014. Effect of different method irrigation and manure on reduce water use in the planting grain maize cv. KSC704. Iranian Journal of Field Crops Research 12: 766-775. (In Persian with English Summary)
Tammeorg, P., Simojoki, A., Mäkelä, P., Stoddard, F.L., Alakukku, L., and Helenius, J. 2014. Short-term effects of biochar on soil properties and wheat yield formation with meat bone meal and inorganic fertilizer on a boreal loamy sand. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 191: 108-116.
Triplett, G., and Dick, W.A. 2008. No-tillage crop production: a revolution in agriculture! Agronomy Journal 100: 153-165.
Turner, D.A., Edis, R.B., Chen, D., Freney, J.R., Denmead, O.T., and Christie, R. 2010. Determination and mitigation of ammonia loss from urea applied to winter wheat with N-(n-butyl) thiophosphorictriamide. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 137: 261-266.
Vaccari, F.P., Baronti, S., Lugato, E., Genesio, L., Castaldi, S., Fornasier, F., and Miglietta, F. 2011. Biochar as a strategy to sequester carbon and increase yield in durum wheat. European Journal of Agronomy 34: 231-238.
Van Zwieten, L., Kimber, S., Downie, A., Morris, S., Petty, S., Rust, J., and Chan, K.Y. 2010. A glasshouse study on the interaction of low mineral ash biochar with nitrogen in a sandy soil. Australian Journal of Soil Research 48: 569-576.
Vogeler, I., Rogasik, J., Funder, U., Panten, K., and Schnug, E. 2009. Effect of tillage systems and P-fertilization on soil physical and chemical properties, crop yield and nutrient uptake. Soil and Tillage Research 103: 137-143.
Zamani Babgohari, J., Afyuni, M., Khoshgoftarmanesh, A.H., and Eshghizadeh, H.R. 2011. Effect of Polyacryl sewage sludge, municipal compost and cow manure on soil properties and maize yield. Journal of Science and Technology of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Journal of Water and Soil Science) 14: 153-166 (In Persian with English Summary).
Zhang, A., Liu, Y., Pan, G., Hussain, Q., Li, L., Zheng, J., and Zhang, X. 2012. Effect of biochar amendment on maize yield and greenhouse gas emissions from a soil organic carbon poor calcareous loamy soil from Central China Plain. Plant and Soil 351: 263-275.
Zheng, H., Wang, Z., Deng, X., Herbert, S., and Xing, B. 2013. Impacts of adding biochar on nitrogen retention and bioavailability in agricultural soil. Geoderma 206: 32-39.