Soil and Plant Tests to Optimize Fertilizer Nitrogen Management of Potatoes

  • Noura Ziadi
  • Bernie J. Zebarth
  • Gilles Bélanger
  • Athyna N. Cambouris


Appropriate fertilizer nitrogen (N) management can optimize tuber yield and quality, and reduce the risk of environmental N losses. However, the optimal fertilizer N management can vary among fields and years. Plant- and soil-based tests are examined in this chapter as diagnostic tools to improve fertilizer N management in rain-fed potato production in eastern Canada. Plant-based diagnostic tests assess potato N sufficiency and can be used to guide in-season fertilizer N management. The nitrogen nutrition index (NNI) based on whole plants, the petiole nitrate concentration, and the leaf chlorophyll meter reading (SPAD) have been shown to successfully diagnose the level of potato N nutrition during the growing season in eastern Canada. The use of gene expression, a promising tool for a direct measurement of potato N sufficiency compared with chemical or optical methods, is also examined. Soil-based tests can be used to provide an estimate of soil N supply to adjust the at-planting fertilizer N rate. The use of pre-plant and in-season soil nitrate tests, ion exchange membranes, indices of soil mineralizable N, and near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) are examined. A combination of a soil-based test to guide at-planting fertilizer N application and a plant-based test to guide in-season N management may be most effective.


Tuber Yield Relative Yield Soil Nitrate Leaf Chlorophyll Content Spring Soil 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noura Ziadi
    • 1
  • Bernie J. Zebarth
    • 2
  • Gilles Bélanger
    • 1
  • Athyna N. Cambouris
    • 3
  1. 1.Soils and Crops Research and Development CentreAgriculture and Agri-Food CanadaQuebec CityCanada
  2. 2.Potato Research CentreAgriculture and Agri-Food CanadaFrederictonCanada
  3. 3.Soils and Crops Research and Development CentreAgriculture and Agri-Food CanadaQuebec CityCanada

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