Quality of white cabbage yield and potential risk of ground water nitrogen pollution, as affected by nitrogen fertilisation and irrigation practices

J Sci Food Agric. 2012 Jan 15;92(1):92-8. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.4546. Epub 2011 Jul 18.


Background: The effect of different fertilisation (broadcast solid NPK application and fertigation with water-soluble fertiliser) and irrigation practices (sprinkler and drip irrigation) on yield, the nitrate content in cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata L.) and the cabbage N uptake was detected, in order to assess the potential risk for N losses, by cultivation on sandy-loam soil. The N rate applied on the plots was 200 kg N ha(-1).

Results: The highest yield (93 t ha(-1)) and nitrate content (1256 mg kg(-1) DW) were found with treatments using broadcast fertilisation and sprinkler irrigation. On those plots the negative N balance (-30 kg N ha(-1)) was recorded, which comes mainly from the highest crop N uptake (234 kg N ha(-1)) indicating the lowest potential for N losses.

Conclusion: In terms of yield quality and the potential risk for N losses, broadcast fertilisation combined with sprinkler irrigation proved to be the most effective combination among the tested practices under the given experimental conditions. The importance of adequate irrigation is also evident, namely in plots on which 50% drip irrigation was applied, the lowest yield was detected and according to the positive N balance, a higher potential for N losses is expected.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agricultural Irrigation / methods*
  • Agriculture / methods
  • Biological Transport
  • Biomass
  • Brassica* / growth & development
  • Brassica* / metabolism
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Fertilizers*
  • Groundwater / chemistry*
  • Nitrates / metabolism*
  • Nitrogen / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Soil
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism*
  • Water Pollution / prevention & control


  • Fertilizers
  • Nitrates
  • Soil
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Nitrogen