Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 88, Issue 3, pp 361–380 | Cite as

Need based nitrogen management using the chlorophyll meter and leaf colour chart in rice and wheat in South Asia: a review

  • Varinderpal-SinghEmail author
  • Bijay-Singh
  • Yadvinder-Singh
  • H. S. Thind
  • R. K. Gupta
Research Article


Fertilizer nitrogen (N) is one of the major inputs in rice–wheat production systems in South Asia. As fertilizer N has generally been managed following blanket recommendations consisting of two or three split applications of preset rates of the total amount of N, improvement in N use efficiency could not be achieved beyond a limit. Feeding crop N needs is the most appropriate fertilizer N management strategy to further improve N use efficiency. Since plant growth reflects the total N supply from all sources, plant N status at any given time should be a better indicator of the N availability. The chlorophyll meter and leaf colour chart have emerged as diagnostic tools which can indirectly estimate crop N status of the growing crops and help define time and quantity of in-season fertilizer N top dressings in rice and wheat. Supplemental fertilizer N applications are thus synchronized with the N needs of crop. The chlorophyll meter may not be owned by South Asian farmers individually, but it can be made available to farmers through village cooperatives, extension specialists, and crop consultants. Leaf colour chart, a simple and cost-effective device has already penetrated into South Asian farming and increasing numbers of farmers are finding it helpful in efficiently managing N fertilizers. This paper reviews the results of investigations carried out using these diagnostic tools in managing need based N applications in rice and wheat in South Asia.


Crop N demand Leaf colour chart N use efficiency Rice SPAD meter Wheat 



Varinderpal-Singh and Bijay-Singh acknowledge the financial support provided by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi in the form of ICAR National Professor project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Varinderpal-Singh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bijay-Singh
    • 1
  • Yadvinder-Singh
    • 2
  • H. S. Thind
    • 2
  • R. K. Gupta
    • 2
  1. 1.ICAR National Professor ProjectPunjab Agricultural UniversityLudhianaIndia
  2. 2.Department of SoilsPunjab Agricultural UniversityLudhianaIndia

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