The fate of fertilizer N in field studies in the volcanic Lesser Antilles with 15N-urea. (330)


  • J.L. Chotte ORSTOM, BP 8006, 97259 Fort de France Cédex, France
  • C. Feller ORSTOM, LCSC. BP5045 34032 Montpellier Cédex 1, France
  • J.M. Hetier ORSTOM/ULA, Fac. C. Forestales, Merida, Venezuela
  • A. Mariotti Université Pierre et Marie Curie/INRA, Laboratoire de Biogéochimie Isotopique, CASE 120, 4 place Jussieu, 75252 Paris Cédex 05, France


Andisol, Ferrallitic soils, Humid-tropical Caribbean volcanic islands, Maize, 15 N-urea plant efficiency, 15N-urea immobilization, 15N-urea losses, Vertisol


In the Lesser Antilles, recent replacement of old rural systems by intensive market gardening (MG) has led to a decrease of the soil organic matter (OM) content. A field experiment was designed on different types of soils (vertisol, ferrallitic soils, and andisol), to determine the effect on soil OM content of previous land use, either fallow (F) and pasture (P) or MG and banana plantations (B). The fate of 15N-urea applied to a maize crop was studied under the different combinations of soil type and previous land use history. Plant productivity of maize crops reflected N uptake, but not the N levels in soil OM. In the Lesser Antilles, soil OM does not limit plant productivity. However, immobilization of fertilizer N in soil (and thus a reduction of N losses) was positively linked to soil OM status. Losses, except for the andisol, were less than 30% of applied urea N, an observation which favours the use of urea in this humid tropical area.



Research Papers