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@ 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands. and excess problems in plant nutrition

By Meine Van Noordwijkl and Georg Cadisch


As plant nutrition issues are redefined by society, new applications emerge for a basic understanding of nutrient use efficiency in soil-plant processes to avoid excess on rich soils as commonly found in the temperate zone and make the best of it under access-limited conditions common in the tropics. The main challenge of plant nutrition may be to increase the width of the domain between the access and excess frontiers, rather than to define a single ' economic optimum ' point. Two approaches are discussed to widen this domain: the technical paradigm of precision farming and the ecological analogue approach based on filter functions and complementarity of components in mixed plant systems. Current understanding of plant nutrition, largely focused on monocultural situations, needs to be augmented by the interactions that occur in more complex systems, including agroforestry and intercropping as these may form part of the answer in both the excess and shortage type of situation. Simulations with the WaNuLCAS model to explore the concepts of a 'safety-net ' for mobile nutrients by deep rooted plants suggested a limited but real opportunity to intercept nutrients on their way out of the system and thus increase nutrient use-efficiency at the system level. The impacts of rhizosphere modification to mobilize nutrients in mixed-species systems were shown to depend on the degree of synlocation of roots of the various plant components, as well as on the long-term replenishment of the nutrient resources accessed. In conclusion, the concepts and tools to help farmers navigat

Topics: Key words, agroforestry, competition, complementarity, rhizosphere modification, safety net, simulation model
Year: 2009
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