Skip to main content

Nitrogen Use Efficiency by Annual and Perennial Crops

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Farming for Food and Water Security

Part of the book series: Sustainable Agriculture Reviews ((SARV,volume 10))

Abstract

The amount of nitrogen fertilizer applied to plants is usually large. Only part of this fertilizer, of about 6–50%, is taken up by plants, depending on fertilizer, plant and soil type, climatic conditions, and agricultural practices. The unaccounted nitrogen can be emitted from the ecosystem as trace gas and ammonia volatilization, or lost by leaching and runoff in the nitrate or ammonium form. The goal of reducing mineral nitrogen usage will be to this twenty-first century what the goal of reducing pesticides was to the last century. In the present study we reviewed the different concepts for nitrogen use efficiency by annual and woody plants. The major points were (i) understanding the terminology and the context in which each concept for nitrogen use efficiency has been used for annual and perennial woody plants, (ii) identifying the critical steps of controlling plant nitrogen use efficiency, and (iii) addressing new approaches to improve the efficiency for annual and perennial woody plants.

Some factors have been extensively studied for arable crops, but not for woody plants, and included the source, timing and rate of fertilizer nitrogen, plant growth curves, environmental factors, and cultural practices. Precision nitrogen management, and intercropping and crop rotation including legumes are recommended techniques to improve nutrient efficiency. Maximum crop yield has been achieved using high-yielding bred plants, with an optimization of photosynthetic capacity, but without maximizing the nitrogen use efficiency. At low nitrogen availability, C3 plants have greater nitrogen use efficiency than C4 plants, whereas at high nitrogen the opposite is true. Consequently, identifying the regulatory elements controlling the balance between nitrogen allocation to maintain photosynthesis and the reallocation of the remobilized nitrogen to sink organs in C3 and C4 species is vital for improving fertilizer use efficiency and reducing excessive input of fertilizer, while maintaining an acceptable yield.

In the present review we reinforced the importance of selecting plant genotypes from the ancient and modern germoplasm in order to improve nitrogen use efficiency. Efforts should include plant selection under low nitrogen, which has not been a priority for plant breeders. Plant breeders may need to find newer, more appropriate plant cultivars which can maximize the role of mycorrhizal in agriculture. The contribution of mycorrhizal in annual and perennial crops, particularly with ancient plant germoplasm, and the influence of rootstocks and plant N reserves in woody plants, and ammonia emissions from annual and perennial crops (1–4% of fertilizer nitrogen) should be considered for improving fertilizer nitrogen use efficiency. Beneficial traits can probably include the ability to maintain the plant photosynthetic capacity and nitrogen uptake under reduced (or high) nitrogen level perhaps through beneficial mycorrhizal associations and old (or modern) crop genotypes. Nitrogen absorption depends on fungi strain and plant cultivar. Rootstocks influence roots number and class, the nutrient uptake and translocation, and the bud break in woody plants which mechanism is not fully understood. This factor is probably crucial for attaining optimum nitrogen use efficiency and careful attention should be given for the choice of appropriate rootstock. Finally, we found that most studies for crop nitrogen recovery are based on recovery efficiency at harvest or fruit ripening which may underestimate the potential for fertilizer N utilization. Greater efficiency data arise when the efficiency is calculated on basis of mean nitrogen during the major growth period.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Ahmed OH, Hussin A, Ahmad HMH, Jalloh MB, Rahim AA, Majid NMA (2009) Enhancing the urea-N use efficiency in maize (Zea mays) cultivation on acid soils using urea amended with zeolite and TSP. Am J Appl Sci 6:829–833

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Alves JA (1979) Efeito dos adubos azotados sobre o peso e o teor de azoto do grão, a exportação e a recuperação do azoto aplicado na cultura do trigo. INIA, Oeiras

    Google Scholar 

  • Ames RN, Reid CP, Porterf PLK, Cambardella C (1983) Hyphal uptake and transport of nitrogen from two 15N-labelled sources by Glomus mossae, a vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus. New Phytol 95:381–396

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Azcón R, Ruiz-Lozano JM, Rodriguez R (2001) Differential contribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to plant nitrate uptake (15N) under increasing n supply to soil. Can J Bot 79:1175–1180

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beauregard MS, Hamel C, Arnaud MS (2008) Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi communities in major intensive North American grain production. In: Siddiqui ZA (ed) Mycorrhizae: sustainable agriculture and forestry. Springer-Science, Dordrecht, pp 135–157

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Carranca C (1989) Nitrogen availability in some maize cultivated soils of Portugal. In: Germon JC (ed) Management systems to reduce impact of nitrates. Elsevier Applied, London, pp 197–209

    Google Scholar 

  • Carranca C (1996) Nitrogen cycling in Portuguese soils and its assessment by 15N. Ph.D. thesis (Agronomy), University of Lisbon, Portugal

    Google Scholar 

  • Carranca C (2005) Crop management and postharvest quality of spinach for fresh consumption and processing. In: Dris R (ed) Vegetables: growing, environment and mineral nutrition. WFL Publ, Helsinki, pp 260–270

    Google Scholar 

  • Carranca C (2010) Gestão eficiente do azoto e da matéria orgânica na produção agrícola e na sustentabilidade dos ecossistemas agrários. Programas de investigação e de pós-graduação para habilitação para o exercício de funções de coordenação científica da carreira de investigação do INIA, Oeiras

    Google Scholar 

  • Carranca C (2011) The role of legumes for sustainability: research needs for future prospects. In: Symbiosis: evolution, biology and ecological effects. NOVA publishers (in press)

    Google Scholar 

  • Carranca C, De Varennes A, Rolston DE (1999) Variation in N-recovery to winter wheat under Mediterranean conditions, studied with 15N-labelled fertilizers. Eur J Agron 11:145–155

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cassman KG, Kroff MJ, Gaunt J, Peng S (1993) Nitrogen use efficiency of rice reconsidered: what are the key constraints? Plant Soil 155(156):359–362

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cassman KG, Dobermann A, Walters DT (2002) Agroecosystems, nitrogen use efficiency, and nitrogen management. Ambio 31:132–140

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Chadha KL, Choudhari ML (2007) Report of the working group on horticulture, plantation crops and organic farming for the XI five year plan (2007–12). Government for India planning commission, New Delhi

    Google Scholar 

  • Correia MFOP (2001) Physiological and nutritional characterization of iron chlorosis in citrus: assessment of the mechanisms underlying the tolerance to HCO3 effects. Ph.D. thesis, University of Algarve, Faro

    Google Scholar 

  • Cruz C, Carranca C (2010) A colonização micorrízica no uso eficiente do azoto pelas culturas hortícolas. Rev APH (Associação Portuguesa de Horticultura) (102), Julho-Agosto 102:9–12

    Google Scholar 

  • Cruz C, Egsgaard H, Trujillo C, Per A, Requena N, Martins-Loução MA, Jakobsen I (2007) Enzymatic evidence for the key role of arginine in nitrogen translocation by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Plant Physiol 144:782–792

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Davies FT Jr (2008) Opportunities from down under: how mycorrhizal fungi can benefit nursery propagation. Comb Proc Int Plant Propag Soc 58:539–548

    Google Scholar 

  • Dawson JC, Huggins DR, Jones SS (2008) Characterizing nitrogen use efficiency in natural and agricultural ecosystems to improve the performance of cereal crops in low-input and organic agricultural systems. Field Crops Res 107:89–101

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • De Varennes A (2003) Produtividade dos solos e ambiente. Escolar Editora, Lisboa

    Google Scholar 

  • Dodd JC (2000) The role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in agro- and natural ecosystems. Outlook Agric 29:63–70

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dordas CA (2011) Nitrogen nutrition index and its relationship to N use efficiency in linseed. Eur J Agron 34:124–132

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Erley GS, Dewi ER, Nikus O, Horst WJ (2010) Genotypic differences in nitrogen efficiency of white cabbage (Brassica oleracea L.). Plant Soil 328:313–325

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) (1971–1981) FAO/UNESCO soil map of the world (1:5 000 000)

    Google Scholar 

  • FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) (2008) Current world fertilizer trends and outlook to 2011/12. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome

    Google Scholar 

  • Figueiredo N (2011) Dinâmica do azoto em campos alagados para produção de arroz, em Salvaterra de Magos. Eficiência do uso do nutriente pela cultura. Thesis for master degree in agricultural engineering, ISA/UTL, Lisbon

    Google Scholar 

  • Figueiredo N, Fareleira P, Menino R, Marques P, Vargues A, Carranca C (2011) A produção de arroz em Portugal. Livro das comemorações dos 75 anos da Estação Agronómica Nacional, Oeiras

    Google Scholar 

  • Forsum O, Svennerstam H, Ganeteg U, Na¨sholm T (2008) Capacities and constraints of amino acid utilization in Arabidopsis. New Phytol 179:1058–1069

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Gördes D, Kolukisaoglu Ü, Thurow K (2011) Uptake and conversion of D-amino acids in Arabidopsis thaliana. Amino Acids 40:553–563

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gwaze DP, Bridgwater FE, Williams CG (2002) Genetic analysis of growth curves for a woody perennial species, Pinus taeda L. Theor Appl Genet 105:526–531

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hardarson G, Hood-Nowotny R, Jensen ES, Peoples MB, Van Cleemput O, Van Kessel C, Vanlauwe B, Zapata F (2008) In: IAEA (ed) Guidelines on nitrogen management in agricultural systems, vol 29, Training course series. International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna

    Google Scholar 

  • Harper LA, Sharpe RR, Langdale GW, Evans JE (1987) Nitrogen cycling in a wheat crop: soil, plant, and aerial nitrogen transport. Agron J 79:967–973

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Heinen M (1999) Analytical growth equations and their Genstat 5 equivalents. Neth J Agric Sci 47:67–89

    Google Scholar 

  • Hirel B, Le Gouis J, Ney B, Gallais A (2007) The challenge of improving nitrogen use efficiency in crop plants: towards a more central role for genetic variability and quantitative genetics within integrated approaches. J Exp Bot 58:2369–2387

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • IPCC (2007) Contribution of Working Group II (WGII): Climate change 2007: Impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation in vulnerable countries. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

    Google Scholar 

  • IUSS (International Union of Soil Science), Working Group WRB (World Reference Base) (2006) World reference base for soil resources 2006, vol 103, 2nd edn, World soil resources reports. FAO, Rome

    Google Scholar 

  • Jackson LE, Miller D, Smith SE (2002) Arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization and growth of wild and cultivated lettuce in response to nitrogen and phosphorus. Sci Hortic 94:205–218

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jame YW, Cutforth HW (1996) Crop growth models for decision support systems. Can J Plant Sci 76:9–19

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jensen ES, Haugaard-Nielsen H (2003) How can increased use of biological N2 fixation in agriculture benefit the environment? Plant Soil 252:177–186

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Jensen LS, Christensen L, Mueller T, Nielsen NE (1997) Turnover of residual 15N-labelled fertilizer N in soil following harvest of oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.). Plant Soil 190:193–202

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kara B (2010) Influence of late-season nitrogen application on grain yield, nitrogen use efficiency and protein content of wheat under Isparta ecological conditions. Turk J Field Crop 15:1–6

    Google Scholar 

  • Kibunja CN, Mwaura FB, Mugendi DN, Kitonyo EM, Salema MP (2012) Crop N uptake and fertilizer N use efficiency under a continuous maize-bean farming system in the semi-humid highlands of Kenya. Afr J Agric Res (in press)

    Google Scholar 

  • Kozlowski TT, Pallardy SG (1997) Physiology of woody plants. Academic, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Krab EJ, Cornelissen JHC, Lang SI, van Logtestijn RSP (2008) Amino acid uptake among wide-ranging moss species may contribute to their strong position in higher-latitude ecosystems. Plant Soil 304:199–208

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Lambers H, Chapin FS, Pons JL (2008) Plant physiological ecology, 2nd edn. Springer, New York

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Lea-Cox JD, Syvertsen JP, Graetz DA (2001) Springtime 15Nitrogen uptake, partitioning, and leaching losses from young bearing Citrus trees of differing nitrogen status. J Am Soc Hortic Sci 126:242–251

    Google Scholar 

  • Li Q-Z, Sun J-H, Wei X-J, Christie P, Zhang F-S, Li L (2011) Overyielding and interspecific interactions mediated by nitrogen fertilization in strip intercropping of maize with faba bean, wheat and barley. Plant Soil 339:147–161

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Mengel K, Kirkby EA (2001) Principles of plant nutrition, 5th edn. Kluwer Academic, London, p 849

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Menino MR (2005) Eficiência de utilização do N em jovens laranjeiras ‘Lane Late’, na Campina de Faro (ZVN). Tese de Doutoramento em Engenharia Agronómica, ISA, Lisbon

    Google Scholar 

  • Menino MR, Carranca C, De Varennes A (2007) Distribution and remobilization of nitrogen in young non-bearing orange trees grown under Mediterranean conditions. J Plant Nutr 30:1083–1096

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Mifflin BJ, Lea PJ (1976) The pathway of nitrogen assimilation in plants. Phytochemistry 15:873–885

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mikkelsen DS, Jayaweera GR, Rolston D (1995) Nitrogen fertilization practices of lowland rice. In: Bacon P (ed) Nitrogen fertilization in the environment. Marcel Dekker Inc, New York, pp 171–223

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller RL, Jackson LE (1998) Survey of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae in lettuce production in relation to management and soil factors. J Agric Sci, Cambridge 130:173–182

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moll RH, Kamprath EJ, Jackson WA (1982) Analysis and interpretation of factors which contribute to efficiency to nitrogen utilization. Agron J 74:562–564

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Morinaga K, Imai S, Yakushiji H, Koshita Y (2003) Effects of fruit load on partitioning of 15N and 13C, respiration and growth of grapevine roots at different fruit stages. Sci Hortic 97:239–253

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Neilsen D, Millard P, Neilsen GH, Hogue EJ (2001) Nitrogen uptake, efficiency of use, and partitioning for growth in young apple trees. J Am Soc Hortic Sci 126:144–150

    Google Scholar 

  • Neto CS (2008) Estudo da dinâmica do azoto em pereira (Pyrus communis L.). Tese de Doutoramento em Engenharia Agronómica, ISA, Lisboa

    Google Scholar 

  • Neto CS, Carranca C, Clemente J, De Varennes A (2008) Nitrogen distribution, remobilization and re-cycling in young non-bearing ‘Rocha’ pear trees. Sci Hortic 118:299–307

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Neto C, Carranca C, Clemente J, de Varennes A (2011) Assessing the nitrogen status of young non-bearing ‘Rocha’ pear trees grown in a Mediterranean region by using chlorophyll meter. J Plant Nutr 34:627–639

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Netto AT, Campostrini E, de Oliveira JG, Yamanishi OK (2002) Portable chlorophyll meter for the quantification of photosynthetic pigments, nitrogen and the possible use for assessment of the photochemical process in Carica papaya L. Braz J Plant Physiol 14:203–210

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Netto AT, Campostrini E, Bressan-Smith SE (2005) Photosynthetic pigments, nitrogen, chlorophyll fluorescence and SPAD-502 readings in coffee leaves. Sci Hortic 104:199–209

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Niederholzer F (2007) Improving the nutrient efficiency of tree crops. Plant and Soil Conference, UCCE Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties, Yuba City, pp 63–70

    Google Scholar 

  • Olea F, Pérez-Garcia A, Cantón FR, Rivera ME, Cañas R, Ávila C, Cazorla FM, Cánovas FM, de Vicente A (2004) Up-regulation and localization of asparagine synthetase in tomato leaves infected by the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. Plant Cell Physiol 45:770–780

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Oliveira MD, Gusmão MR, Carranca C, Gonçalves MG (1989) Some forms of nitrogen in a sugarbeet cultivated soil of Portugal. In: Germon JC (ed) Management systems to reduce impact of nitrates. Elsevier Applied, London, pp 210–223

    Google Scholar 

  • Pearson J, Clough ECM, Woodall J, Havill DC, Zhang X-H (1998) Ammonia emissions to the atmosphere from leaves of wild plants and Hordeum vulgare treated with methionine sulphoximine. New Phytol 138:37–48

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Peoples MB, Herridge DF, Ladha JK (1995) Biological nitrogen fixation: an efficient source of nitrogen for sustainable agricultural production? Plant Soil 174:3–28

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Porro D, Bertamini M, Dorigatti C, Stafanini M, Ceschini A (2001) Lo SPAD nella diagnosi dello stato nutrizionale della vite. L’Informatore Agrario 26:49–55

    Google Scholar 

  • Raun WR, Johnson GV (1999) Improving nitrogen use efficiency for cereal production. Agron J 91:357–363

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Recous S, Machet JM, Mary B (1988) The fate of labeled 15N urea and ammonium nitrate applied to a winter wheat crop. II- Plant uptake and N efficiency. Plant Soil 112:215–224

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Righetti TL, Khemira H, Sugar D, Sanchez EE (1994) Nitrogen requirements and nitrogen uptake efficiency for Comice pears. Acta Hortic 367:304

    Google Scholar 

  • Roberts TL (2008) Improving nutrient use efficiency. Turk J Agric Forest 32:177–182

    Google Scholar 

  • Sanchez PA, Izac A-MN, Valencia I, Pieri C (1996) Soil fertility replenishment in Africa: a concept: 200–207. In: Breth SA (ed) Achieving greater impact from research investments in Africa. Sasakawa Africa Association, Mexico City

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith CJ, Frency JR, Sherlock RR, Galbally IE (1991) The fate of urea nitrogen applied in a foliar spray to wheat at heading. Fert Res 28:129–138

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Sommer SG, Hutchings N (1995) Techniques and strategies for the reduction of ammonia emission from agriculture. Water Air Soil Pollut 85:237–248

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Sommer SG, Schjoerring JK, Denmead OT (2004) Ammonia emission from mineral fertilizers and fertilized crops. Adv Agron 82:557–622

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Sorgonà A, Lupini A, Abenavoli MR (2011) Nitrate use-efficiency: a morphological analysis of the above- and below-ground. Functional traits in two citrus rootstocks. Glob J Plant Ecophysiol 1:26–37

    Google Scholar 

  • Stutte CA, Weiland RT, Blem AR (1979) Gaseous nitrogen loss from soybean foliage. Agron J 71:95–97

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Svennerstam H, Jämtgård S, Ahmad I, Huss-Danell K, Näsholm T, Ganeteg U (2011) Transporters in Arabidopsis roots mediating uptake of amino acids at naturally occurring concentrations. New Phytol. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2011.03699.x

  • Tomaz MA, Sakiarna NS, Martinez HEP, Cruz CD, Zambolim L, Pereira AA (2004) Comparison of nutritional efficiency among hydroponic grafted young coffee trees for N, P, and K. Crop Breed Appl Biotechnol 4:92–99

    Google Scholar 

  • Uribelarrea M, Crafts-Brandner SJ (2009) Physiological N response of field-grown maize hybrids (Zea mays L.) with divergent yield potential and grain protein concentration. Plant Soil 316:151–160

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Valenzuela-Estrada LR, Vera-Caraballo V, Ruth LE, Eissenstat DM (2008) Root anatomy, morphology, and longevity among root orders in Viccinium corymbosum (Ericaceae). Am J Bot 95:1506–1514

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Vanlauwe B, Kihara J, Chivenge P, Pypers P, Coe R, Six J (2011) Agronomic use efficiency of N fertilizer in maize-based systems in sub-Saharan Africa within the context of integrated soil fertility management. Plant Soil 339:35–50

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Weih M, Asplund L, Bergkvist G (2011) Assessment of nutrient use in annual and perennial crops: a functional concept for analyzing nitrogen use efficiency. Plant Soil 339:513–520

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Woolfolk CW, Raun WR, Johnson GV, Thompson WE, Mullen RW, Wyn KJ, Freeman KW (2002) Influence of late-season foliar nitrogen applications on yield and grain nitrogen in wheat. Agron J 94:429–434

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang Z-H, Song H-X, Liu Q, Rong X-M, Peng J-W, Xie G-X, Zhang Y-P (2009) Study on differences of nitrogen efficiency and nitrogen response in different oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) varieties. Asian J Plant Sci 1:105–112

    Google Scholar 

  • Zou C, Zhang F (2003) Ammonium improves iron nutrition by decreasing leaf apoplastic pH of sunflower plants (Helianthus annuus L. cv. Frankasol). Chin Sci Bull 48:2215–2220

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Corina Carranca .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Carranca, C. (2012). Nitrogen Use Efficiency by Annual and Perennial Crops. In: Lichtfouse, E. (eds) Farming for Food and Water Security. Sustainable Agriculture Reviews, vol 10. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-4500-1_3

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics