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Optimizing nitrogen use efficiency in wheat and potatoes: interactions between genotypes and agronomic practices

Lookup NU author(s): Eleanor Swain, Dr Leo RempelosORCiD, Dr caroline Orr, Gavin Hall, Rachel Chapman, Mftah Almadni, Dr Elizabeth Stockdale, Jonathan Kidd, Professor Carlo Leifert, Dr Julia Cooper


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One approach to decrease the environmental impact of crop production and reduce costs is to optimize agronomic practices and genotypes so that nutrients are used more efficiently. In this study the effects of agronomic practices (rotations, crop protection, fertilization) on yields, nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and associated parameters were studied in an experiment using two winter wheat genotypes (Cordiale and Scaro) in one season and two potato genotypes (Sarpo Mira and Sante) in two seasons. The wheat showed no varietal differences in yield and NUE; instead the fertilization regime was the main factor affecting yield and NUE with higher values observed when conventional fertilization was used. The exception was for wheat grown after three years grass/clover ley when there was no added yield benefit from conventional fertilization of the organically bred variety (Scaro). This demonstrates the potential for N fixing crops to provide sufficient N to high yielding cereals if grown for long enough prior to planting. The greatest gains in NUE were achieved by combining an N efficient genotype with conventional crop management in an organic rotation. Fertilization and genotypic variation were the main factors affecting potato tuber yield and NUE, with the late maturing Sarpo Mira displaying elevated yields and NUE compared with the early maturing Sante. The use of organic fertility sources resulted in lower NUE, but N release from organic sources may increase NUE of future crops. This highlights the need for long-term nutrient balance and modelling studies to assess NUE at the crop rotation scale.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Swain EY; Leifert C; Stockdale EA; Cooper JM; Kidd J; Hall G; Chapman R; Rempelos L; Orr CH; Almadni M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Euphytica

Year: 2014

Volume: 199

Issue: 1-2

Pages: 119-136

Print publication date: 01/09/2014

Online publication date: 29/07/2014

Acceptance date: 04/06/2014

ISSN (print): 0014-2336

ISSN (electronic): 1573-5060

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s10681-014-1181-6


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Funder referenceFunder name
NUE-CROPS FP7-CP-IP 222645European Community