Towards Balanced Fertilizer Management in South China: Enhancing Wax Gourd (Benincasa hispida) Yield and Produce Quality

Xiao Chen, Xiaodong Chen, Jiabin Jiao, Fusuo Zhang, Xinping Chen, Guohua Li, Zhao Song, Eldad Sokolowski, Patricia Imas, Hillel Magen, Amnon Bustan, Yuzhi He, Dasen Xie, Baige Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Balanced fertilizer management promotes plant growth, enhances produce quality, mini-mizes inputs, and reduces negative environmental impacts. Wax gourd (Benincasa hispida) is an im-portant vegetable crop species in China and in South Asia. Two crop nutrition options, NPK and the natural mineral polyhalite, were tested, separately and combined, with the aim of enhancing wax gourd yield and quality and simultaneously to increase nutrient use efficiency and reducing inputs. The experiments tested the optimization of NPK by reducing the proportion of phosphorus (P), and the effect of enriching the soil with essential macronutrients by the use of the supplementary mineral fertilizer polyhalite containing magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca) and sulfur (S). Two experiments were carried out in Foshan County, Guangdong, China, in 2018 and 2019. Experiments included four treatments: (1) Conventional NPK (15:15:15); (2) Optimized NPK (16:8:18); (3) Conventional NPK + polyhalite; (4) Optimized NPK + polyhalite. Fertilizers were applied prior to plant-ing. While optimized NPK alone had no effects on fruit yield and quality, supplementary polyhalite resulted in a 10–17% increase in yield and significantly improved produce quality due to increased nutrient uptake from polyhalite, resulting in better foliar biomass. We conclude that the combined crop nutrition options improved yield and quality, enhanced nutrient use efficiency, and reduced risks of nutrient pollution. Inclusion of polyhalite in balanced fertilization practices as a supplementary source of secondary macronutrients seems promising. Nevertheless, plenty of space remains open for further adjustments of NPK application management, focusing on reduced rates, optimized ratio, and accurate timing of application for each nutrient.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5646
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • calcium
  • fruit quality
  • magnesium
  • nutrient recovery
  • optimized nutrient uptake
  • phosphorus
  • polyhalite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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