Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 173–180 | Cite as

The value of nitrogen applied to wheat during early development

  • R. Sylvester-Bradley
  • D. B. Davies
  • C. Dyer
  • C. Rahn
  • P. A. Johnson


Forty eight field trials were conducted at sites representing the major arable areas of the UK to test the effectiveness of nitrogen applied during early growth. A family of linear + exponential curves of constant shape fitted to data from all the trials accounted for 94% of the variation in grain yield. This approach identified soil nitrogen supply as the largest source of variation in the optimum requirement for fertiliser nitrogen. Changes in optimum amounts of fertiliser N indicated that N applied at sowing was about half as effective as N applied in spring. Where some of the spring N was applied in February, the mean response to N applied at sowing was −0.02t/ha of grain. Although some sites responded economically to N applied at sowing, varietal type and delayed spring N application were the only factors identified as possible predictors in practice. Grain yields with optimum N varied between 6.1 to 11.5 t/ha but this wide range failed to account for variation in optimum amount of spring applied N for individual sites. However, about one third of the variation in optimum N was accounted for by a knowledge of soil type, drilling date, winter rain and amount of seedbed N.

Key words

nitrogen response nitrogen timing optimum nitrogen level regression model seedbed nitrogen winter wheat 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anon (1985) Recommended varieties of cereals. Farmers Leaflet no 8 pp31, National Institute of Agricultural Botany, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  2. Anon (1986) The analysis of agricultural materials, pp 172–174. Reference Book 427, ADAS, Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, HMSO London.Google Scholar
  3. Anon (1994) Fertiliser recommendations for agricultural and horticultural crops. Reference Book 209, Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, HMSO London.Google Scholar
  4. Bowerman P and Clare RW (1976) Comparison of nitrogen rates and time of application for winter wheat. Expl Husb 30: 42–54.Google Scholar
  5. Boyd DA, Garner HV and Haynes WB (1957) The fertiliser requirements of sugar beet. J agric Sci Camb 48: 464–476.Google Scholar
  6. Colwell J D (1978) Computations for studies of soil fertility and fertiliser requirements. Farnham Royal Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau, UK.Google Scholar
  7. Davies DB and Archer JR (1990) Nitrate management in the United Kingdom. In: Calvet R (ed) Nitrate- Agriculture-Eau, pp 511–525. International symposium, Institut National de Recherche Agronomique, Paris.Google Scholar
  8. Dyke GV, George GB, Johnston AE, Poulton PR and Todd AD (1983) The Broadbalk wheat experiment 1968– 78: Yields and plant nutrients in crops grown continuously and in rotation. Report of Rothamsted Experimental Station for 1982 part 2: 5–44.Google Scholar
  9. George GJ (1984) Design and interpretation of nitrogen response experiments. In: The nitrogen requirement of cereals, pp 133–148. MAFF Reference Book 385, HMSO, London.Google Scholar
  10. Fisher RA (1924) The influence of rainfall on the yield of wheat at Rothamsted. Phil Trans Roy Soc London, B296, 477–489.Google Scholar
  11. Harris PB (1974) The effect of autumn nitrogen and of different rates and times of application of spring nitrogen on continuous wheat. Expl Husb 27: 1–8.Google Scholar
  12. Harrison R (1995) An investigation of the relationship between soil mineral nitrogen in the autumn or spring and optimum nitrogen rate for cereals. Soil Use & Management 11:4.Google Scholar
  13. Heapy LA, Von Maydell UM, Robertson JA, Love HC, McBeath DK and Webster GR (1976) Development of a barley yield equation for Central Alberta. I Effects of soil and fertiliser N and P. J Soil Sci 56: 233–247.Google Scholar
  14. Lessells WJ and Webber J (1965) The effect of nitrogen on winter wheat. Expl Husb 12: 74–88.Google Scholar
  15. McCalla TM Army TJ and Weise AF (1962) Comparison of the effects of chemical and sweep tillage methods of summer fallow on some properties of Pullman silty clay loam. Agron J 54: 404–407.Google Scholar
  16. Mundy EJ and McClean SP (1965) Winter wheat trials. Part 1. Comparisons of times of sowing, seedrates and seedbed versus spring nitrogen. Expl Husb 12: 146–163.Google Scholar
  17. Powlson DS, Pruden g and Jenkinson DS (1986) Recovery of15N-labelled fertiliser by winter wheat. In: The nitrogen requirement of cereals, pp 119– 120. Reference Book 305 MAAF HMSO London.Google Scholar
  18. Soil Survey of England and Wales (1984) Soils of the Regions of England and Wales, Bulletins 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15, Harpenden.Google Scholar
  19. Sylvester-Bradley R, Dampney PMR and Murray AWA (1984) The response of winter wheat to nitrogen. In: The nitrogen requirement of cereals, pp 151–174. Reference Book 305 MAAF HMSO London.Google Scholar
  20. Sylvester-Bradley R, Addiscott TM, Vaidyanathan LV, Murray AWA and Whitmore AP (1987) Nitrogen advice for cereals: present realities and future possibilities. Proceedings no. 263 of the Fertiliser Society of London, pp 36.Google Scholar
  21. Tottman DR and Broad H (1987) The decimal code for the growth stages of cereals, with illustrations.Google Scholar
  22. Vaidyanathan LV (1984) Winter wheat yield variability. In: The nitrogen requirement of cereals, pp 69– 79. MAFF Reference Book 385, HMSO London.Google Scholar
  23. Van Keulen H (1982) Graphical Analysis of annual crop response to fertiliser application. Agricultural Systems 9: 113–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Webb J, Sylvester-Bradley R and Wafford JD (1995) Influence of sowing date on the uptake of and responses to soil and fertilizer nitrogen by the spring wheat cultivar Tonic. J agric Sci Camb 125: 25–37.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Sylvester-Bradley
    • 1
  • D. B. Davies
    • 1
  • C. Dyer
    • 2
    • 1
  • C. Rahn
    • 3
    • 1
  • P. A. Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.ADAS Arable Research Centre BoxworthCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Statistics DepartmentRothamsted Experimental StationHarpendenEngland
  3. 3.Horticultural Research InternationalWarwickUK

Personalised recommendations