A controlled-release fertilizer improved soil fertility but not olive tree performance uri icon


  • The use of a controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) was studied in a traditional rainfed olive grove in a Mediterranean climate where precipitation is very irregular, particularly in the spring. The objective of the study was to assess whether a CRF can improve the olive tree's performance compared to a conventional nitrogen (N) fertilizer (CF), by supplying N gradually and reducing the risk of potential N loss from leaching. The fertilized treatments showed better plant N nutritional status, which resulted in enhanced net photosynthesis and higher leaf concentrations of total soluble sugars, chlorophylls and soluble proteins which, in turn, increased olive yield by 43% in comparison to the unfertilized control. However, in general, no significant differences were found between fertilized treatments in the performance parameters of the trees evaluated, including olive yield. Somewhat unexpectedly, CRF consistently increased the soil organic carbon (C) (29%), kjeldahl-N (75%) and easily extractable glomalin-related soil proteins (EE-GRSP) (60%) and total GRSP (T-GRSP) (122%) compared to the CF. The result was ascribed to a stimulus on the development of herbaceous vegetation and eventually on the activity of the roots of the trees due to the higher soil inorganic-N availability in the autumn. Thus, some soil inorganic-N in the autumn seems to comprise a low risk of leaching, since weeds act as a catch crop and convert this inorganic N into an organic substrate, with potential benefits in the long-term for the agro-system.

publication date

  • January 2021