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Sugar cane nutrient requirements and the role of atmospheric deposition supplying supplementary fertilization in a Venezuelan sugar cane plantation

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Author(s): D. LÓPEZ-HERNÁNDEZ | D. SEQUERA | O. VALLEJO | C. INFANTE

Journal: Atmósfera
ISSN 0187-6236

Volume: 26;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 337;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: N-deposition | throughfall | foliar leaching | pollution | foliar fertilization

ABSTRACT
As a consequence of high industrial and agricultural activities, acidic rains loaded with pollutants—including nutrients—are characteristic of northern central Venezuela, a region dominated by sugar cane plantations. Canopies of forest and agricultural crops can modify the chemistry of rainfall through uptake, leaching and outwash of deposited ions. This paper describes the change in the chemistry of acid rains after passing through a sugar cane canopy. Four plots of 300 m2 within a 4.5 ha experimental area, planted with Saccharum officinarum had rain and throughfall collectors installed. The study corresponds to the analysis of the growing season of the third ratoon. The pH of the rain in the agroecosystem increased after passing through the canopy. The magnitudes of the changes were important and partially related to the significant amount of cations leached from the leaves or washed out from dry deposition to the leaves. N inputs for wet and dry deposition in the agroecosystem were high (25.25 kg ha–1 yr–1) as a consequence of the agricultural activity in the area, the local burning of sugar cane before cropping, and the location of the experimental area close to petrochemical and fertilizer industries. Rainfall constitutes an important source of nutrient inputs to the sugar cane system. In the case of macronutrients (N, P and K) the inputs were high and supply an important fraction of plant nutrient needs, as occurs for zinc and copper.

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