Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 106, Issue 2, pp 185–199 | Cite as

Nitrogen fertilizer placement and timing affects bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) quality and yield in an irrigated bed planting system

  • Kathrin Grahmann
  • Bram GovaertsEmail author
  • Simon Fonteyne
  • Carlos Guzmán
  • Ana Paullette Galaviz Soto
  • Andreas Buerkert
  • Nele Verhulst
Original Article


Searching for sustainable cropping systems has often focused on the optimization of system sustainability, yield or ideally both. It is important to also include wheat quality characteristics like grain protein concentration (GPC) and bread-making quality (loaf volume). The effect of placement and timing of nitrogen (N) fertilizer on performance and quality of the bread wheat cultivar Navojoa, was tested in two tillage systems under furrow irrigation: conventionally tilled beds (CTB; new beds formed after disc ploughing and residue incorporation) and permanent beds (PB; only furrows reshaped and residues retained on the surface). N fertilizer (120 kg N ha−1 as urea) was broadcast, applied in furrows or disk-banded on top of beds. The timing treatments were all fertilizer applied before planting or split between pre-planting and first node. Permanent beds had the highest yield and grain quality was highest with split bed and furrow application. Averaged over four years, N use efficiency and GPC were significantly higher in CTB (24.5 kg kg−1 and 10.1 %, respectively) than in PB (22.2 kg kg−1 and 9.9 %, respectively) indicating the necessity in PB for optimal N management to obtain stable yields and acceptable grain quality. A reduced number of cold hours and solar radiation negatively affected grain yield. Broadcast fertilizer application reduced grain quality and N use efficiency. N fertilizer management in furrow-irrigated wheat cropping systems should combine splitting the N dose and disking it on the bed pre-planting and in the furrow later in the season, depending on the crop needs at the application time.


N application method Nitrogen use efficiency Grain protein concentration Tillage Yaqui Valley 



K. Grahmann received PhD scholarships from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. This field research was partly funded through a Small Grant (Project number: 11.7860.7-001.00) from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) through ‘Desarrollo sustentable con el productor’, part of ‘Modernización Sustentable de la Agricultura Tradicional’, supported by Secretaria de Agricultura, Ganaderia, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentacion (SAGARPA, Mexico DF, Mexico) and was conducted under the WHEAT Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Program. We thank Manuel de Jesús Ruiz Cano, Jesús Gutiérrez Angulo, Juan de Dios Sánchez Lopez, Álvaro Zermeño, Juan Gastelum Flores, Beatriz Martínez Ortiz, Nehemias Buitimea, Esteban Ontamucha for technical assistance and Ken D. Sayre for designing and initiating the trial.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), ApdoMexico, D.FMexico
  2. 2.Organic Plant Production and Agroecosystems Research in the Tropics and SubtropicsUniversity of KasselWitzenhausenGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research, Plant Science UnitMelleBelgium

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