Exploring the spatial variation in the fertilizer-nitrogen requirement of wheat within fields

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Kindred, D. R., Milne, A. E., Webster, R., Marchant, B. P. and Sylvester-Bradley, R. 2015. Exploring the spatial variation in the fertilizer-nitrogen requirement of wheat within fields. The Journal of Agricultural Science. 153 (1), pp. 25-41.

AuthorsKindred, D. R., Milne, A. E., Webster, R., Marchant, B. P. and Sylvester-Bradley, R.
Abstract

The fertilizer-nitrogen (N) requirement for wheat grown in the UK varies from field to field. Differences in the soil type, climate and cropping history result in differences in (i) the crops’ demands for N, (ii) the supply of N from the soil (SNS) and (iii) the recovery of the fertilizer by the crops. These three components generally form the basis of systems for N recommendation. Three field experiments were set out to investigate the variation of the N requirement for wheat within fields and to explore the importance of variation in the crops’ demands for N, SNS and fertilizer recovery in explaining the differences in the economic optima for N. The N optima were found to vary by >100 kg N/ha at two of the sites. At the other site, the yield response to N was small. Yields at the optimum rate of N varied spatially by c. 4 t/ha at each site. Soil N supply, which was estimated by the unfertilized crops’ harvested N, varied spatially by 120, 75 and 60 kg/ha in the three experiments. Fertilizer recovery varied spatially from 30% to >100% at each of the sites. There were clear relationships between the SNS and the N optima at all the three sites. The expected relationship between the crop's demand for N and N optima was evident at only one of the three sites. There was no consistent relationship between the N recovery and the N optima. A consistent relationship emerged, however, between the optimal yield and SNS; areas with a greater yield potential tending to also supply more N from the soil. This moderated the expected effect of the SNS and the crop's demand for N on the N optima.

Year of Publication2015
JournalThe Journal of Agricultural Science
Journal citation153 (1), pp. 25-41
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1017/S0021859613000919
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderDepartment of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeDelivering Sustainable Systems (SS) [ISPG]
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, nitrate pollutions and lost productivity by fully automating nitrogen fertiliser
Quantifying Sustainable Systems
Sustainable Arable LINK programme
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online05 Feb 2014
Publication process dates
Accepted08 Nov 2013
Copyright licensePublisher copyright
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
ISSN0021-8596

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