The efficiency of utilization of N by maize and sorghum (defined as grain yield per unit N uptake) varies under different climatic, soft and management conditions. To maximize N-use efficiency, the minimum N requirement for a given yield level must be established. The maximum N-use efficiency (NUE) of sorghum was smaller than for maize (48 vs. 61 g grain-1g-1N absorbed), and was associated with a higher grain N concentration in sorghum. Cultivar differences in NUE in sorghum were related to grain N concentration. In both crops, NUE declined when N was supplied at high levels or when growth was limited by moisture supply. These conditions result in increased stem and grain N concentration. Crop models can integrate the effects of abiotic factors on grain yield, and allow the development of strategies for improving the utilization of N to maximize grain yield and to minimise N losses from the production system.
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