Modelling Dynamic Aspects of Nitrogen in Soils and Plants

  • H. van Keulen


It is well over a century since the disagreements between Von Liebig and Gilbert/Lawes on the mineral nutrition of crop plants surfaced. Most of the questions that occupied these scientists at the time seem to have come to a state where reasonable agreement among scientists exists. However one can hardly avoid the conclusion that a hundred years of agricultural and plant physiological research have not advanced the understanding of the basic principles involved in plant nutrition sufficiently to permit the formulation of an unequivocally accepted quantitative description. True enough, the processes involved are complex and for a long time, even up to today may not have been amenable to direct measurements. It also appears however, that the interest in the nature of the processes has been only moderate, probably because a ceiling yield could be achieved anyway by increasing the amount of applied mineral fertilizer. Changing conditions and attitudes in recent years, which led on the one hand to a growing awareness of the (relatively) high costs of fertilizer manufacturing and on the other hand to a growing concern over the possible environmental effects of dumping high doses of plant nutrients on agricultural crops, have stimulated research aimed at a more efficient utilization of the nutrient resource. The basis of any improvement however, is a thorough understanding of the system, the way it operates and the constraints to which it is exposed.


Root Water Uptake Natural Pasture Moisture Balance Organic Matter Transformation Constant Relative Rate 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. van Keulen
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Agrobiological Research (CABO)WageningenThe Netherlands

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