A reappraisal of the critical nitrogen concentration of wheat and its implications on crop modeling

Zhigan Zhao, Enli Wang, Zhimin Wang, Hecang Zang, Yunpeng Liu, John F. Angus

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    47 Citations (Scopus)


    The concept of critical nitrogen (N) concentration (Ncc) has been used for both diagnostic purposes and modelling of wheat-N relations. Ncc has been derived with two contrasting approaches: one against above ground biomass (Ncc-biomass), and one against developmental stages (Ncc-stage). While the former has been claimed in diagnostic use, both approaches are adopted in wheat simulation models. This paper provides data from North China Plain (NCP) to re-exam the Ncc-stage relationships used in two widely used wheat models (APSIM and CERES) and to compare the Ncc-biomass vs. Ncc-stage relationships. The results revealed significant higher maximum and critical N concentrations in leaves of wheat in NCP than the values used in the APSIM-wheat model. Recalibration of the APSIM model with the new N concentrations led to improved simulations for wheat biomass and N uptake, particularly under low N input. Our results also show that the Ncc-stage relationship appeared to be more robust than the Ncc-biomass relationship, and it helped explain the variations in wheat Ncc-biomass curves from different regions. This likely reflects the fact that Ncc-stage curve captures the stage-driven formation of structural biomass and carbohydrate reserves of wheat, which is the main cause for N dilution. The implications of the findings on modelling of wheat-nitrogen relationships and on nitrogen management practices are also discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-73
    Number of pages9
    JournalField Crops Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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