N application enhances remobilization and reduces losses of pre-anthesis N in wheat grown on a duplex soil

J. A. Palta, I. R.P. Fillery

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Abstract

The effect of fertilizer N on the remobilization of N to the grain in wheat was evaluated on a duplex soil at East Beverley, Western Australia. Remobilization of N to the grain was determined using the stable isotope, 15N, which was fed to wheat plants during the vegetative growth phase. Nitrogen was applied at 15, 30 and 60 kg N ha-1 with half being applied at seeding and the remainder at 35 days after sowing (DAS), before the onset of tillering. The high N treatment increased N uptake between stem elongation and anthesis and grain protein concentration by 2.9% relative to the low N treatment. Both the nitrogen harvest index (NHI) and the nitrogen utilization efficiency (NUE) declined as the rate of N application was increased; the decline was more pronounced when the rate of N application was increased from 30 to 60 kg N ha-1. Total grain N at 60 kg N ha-1 was increased by 54%, relative to that at 15 kg N ha-1, due to a 2.3 fold increase in remobilization of pre-anthesis accumulated N and despite a 5 fold reduction in post-anthesis uptake. The application of 60 kg N ha-1 reduced the losses of pre-anthesis N from 19% to 6%. The absolute contribution of the N taken up early in the growth of the crop (before the second node stage) to grain N was 0.9, 1.4 and 3.2 g m-2 at 15, 30 and 60 kg N ha-1 respectively. The contribution of pre-anthesis N to the grain was 2.2, 3.7 and 5.1 g m-2 when 15, 30 and 60 kg N ha-1 were applied respectively. This contribution accounted for 60, 82 and 95% of the total grain N respectively. Results indicated that with greater amounts of N accumulated before anthesis, there was higher remobilization to the grain and less risk of net N losses at maturity, because post-anthesis water deficits developed more rapidly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-531
Number of pages13
Journal Australian Journal of Agricultural Research
Volume46
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes

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