Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 92, Issue 2, pp 133–144 | Cite as

Nitrogen demand and the recovery of 15N-labelled fertilizer in wheat grown under elevated carbon dioxide in southern Australia

  • Shu Kee Lam
  • Deli Chen
  • Rob Norton
  • Roger Armstrong
Original Article


There are few reports on the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) on fertilizer N recovery by crops under open-air conditions. This study was conducted at the Australian Grains Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (AGFACE) facility in southern Australia to investigate the effects of elevated [CO2] (550 μmol mol−1) on growth, N uptake and fertilizer 15N recovery by spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L. cv. Yitpi) over a 2-year period. 15N-enriched (10.22 atom%) granular urea was applied to microplots at 50 kg N ha−1 at varying seasonal rainfall and temperature scenarios (simulated by supplementary irrigation and late sowing) for three experimental periods [2008 normal sowing (2008NS), 2008 late sowing (2008LS) and 2009 normal sowing (2009NS)]. Elevated [CO2] increased wheat biomass (27–58%), N uptake (18–44%) and amount of plant N derived from soil (20–50%) at 2008NS and 2009NS (rainfed), but the effect was not apparent at 2008LS (hotter and drier) and supplementary irrigated plots for 2009NS (above-average rainfall). Tissue N concentration and N derived from fertilizer were unaffected by elevated [CO2] in any experimental period. Irrespective of [CO2], grain yield and whole plant fertilizer N uptake was 37–94 and 13–609%, respectively, higher under supplementary irrigated plots than that in rainfed counterparts. These results indicate that more fertilizer N will need to be applied to this wheat production zone under future [CO2] environments, and yield gains in hotter and drier climates will be lower than those in higher rainfall zones.


Free-air carbon dioxide enrichment (FACE) Nitrogen uptake Fertilizer nitrogen recovery Supplementary irrigation 15N balance Wheat 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shu Kee Lam
    • 1
  • Deli Chen
    • 1
  • Rob Norton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Roger Armstrong
    • 3
  1. 1.Melbourne School of Land and EnvironmentThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.International Plant Nutrition InstituteHorshamAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Primary IndustriesHorshamAustralia

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