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Topdressing nitrogen recommendation in wheat after applying organic manures: the use of field diagnostic tools

Aranguren, Marta, Castellón, Ander, Aizpurua, Ana
Nutrient cycling in agroecosystems 2018 v.110 no.1 pp. 89-103
crops, dairy manure, diagnostic techniques, farmers, fertilizer application, field experimentation, growing season, nitrogen, nitrogen fertilizers, nutritional status, organic fertilizers, protein content, sheep manure, slurries, soil minerals, sowing, stem elongation, tillering, wheat
Nitrogen is the largest input used by farmers, but they often apply excessive quantities of N fertilizer, causing nitrogen losses. In recent years, the management of large quantities of manure and slurry compounds has become a challenge. The aim of this study was to assess the usefulness of the proxy tools Yara N-tester™ and RapidScan CS-45 for diagnosing the N nutritional status of wheat crops when farmyard manures were applied. Our second objective was to start designing a N fertilization strategy based on these measurements. To achieve these objectives, two field trials were established with three factors: growing season, three kinds of initial fertilizers [dairy slurry (40 t ha⁻¹), sheep manure (40 t ha⁻¹) and conventional (no organic fertilizer on basal dressing and 40 kg N ha⁻¹ at tillering)] and five N mineral fertilization dose applied at stem elongation. The proxy tools for diagnosing the N nutritional status were used at stem elongation before applying the mineral N. Proxy tool readings as indicators of the nitrogen nutritional status of the field were as good as soil mineral nitrogen (Nₘᵢₙ) or Nitrogen Nutrition Index (NNI). When the readings were approximately 65% (as compared to an overfertilized control), the optimal N rate applied at stem elongation was slightly higher (10–20 kg N ha⁻¹) than the readings at 88%. The first N topdressing at the beginning of tillering could be avoided when manure was applied before sowing, unfolding new possibilities for a later application that might improve the protein content with lower likely fertilization costs.