Blanket fertilizer nitrogen (N) recommendations for large irrigated transplanted rice tracts lead to low N use-efficiency (NUE) due to field-to-field variability in soil N supply and seasonal variability in yield. To achieve high NUE, a fertilizer N management strategy based on visible and near-infrared spectral response from plant canopies using a GreenSeeker™ optical sensor was evaluated. Seven field experiments were conducted during 2005–2007 at two locations in the Indo-Gangetic plains of South Asia to define relationships between in-season sensor measurements at panicle initiation (PI) stage and up to 2 weeks later, and yield of rice. During 2006–2010, seven field experiments were conducted to assess the sensor-based N management strategy and to work out the prescriptive N management to be followed prior to applying sensor-guided fertilizer dose. During 2010 and 2011, the sensor- based N management strategy was evaluated versus farmers’ fertilizer practice at 19 on-farm locations. Relationships with R2 values 0.51 (n = 131), 0.45 (n = 74) and 0.49 (n = 131), respectively, were observed between in-season sensor-based estimates of yield at 42 (PI stage), 49 and 56 days after transplanting of rice and actual grain yield of rice. Applications of 30 kg N ha−1 at transplanting and 45 kg N ha−1 at active tillering stage were found to be the appropriate prescriptive strategy before applying the GreenSeeker-guided dose at PI stage. Sensor-guided N management resulted in similar grain yields as the blanket rate farmer practice, but with reduced N rates, i.e. greater recovery efficiency (by 5.5–21.7 %) and agronomic efficiency [by 4.7–11.7 kg grain (kg N applied)−1]. This study revealed that high yields coupled with high NUE in transplanted rice can be achieved by replacing blanket fertilizer recommendation by an optical sensor-based N management strategy consisting of applying a moderate amount of fertilizer N at transplanting and enough fertilizer N to meet the high N demand during the period between active tillering and PI before applying a sensor-guided fertilizer N dose at PI stage of rice.
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The authors gratefully acknowledge the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi for providing funds to carry out these investigations under the ICAR National Professor project. We thank Punjab Agricultural University (Ludhiana) and Directorate of Wheat Research-ICAR (Karnal) for providing the necessary facilities used in conducting the experiments.
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Bijay-Singh, Varinderpal-Singh, Purba, J. et al. Site-specific fertilizer nitrogen management in irrigated transplanted rice (Oryza sativa) using an optical sensor. Precision Agric 16, 455–475 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11119-015-9389-6
- Fertilizer nitrogen management
- Optical sensor
- Irrigated rice
- Site-specific nitrogen management