Campus Units

Agronomy

Document Type

Article

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date

2016

Journal or Book Title

Frontiers in Plant Science

Volume

7

First Page

1630

DOI

10.3389/fpls.2016.01630

Abstract

Improved prediction of optimal N fertilizer rates for corn (Zea mays L.) can reduce N losses and increase profits. We tested the ability of the Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator (APSIM) to simulate corn and soybean (Glycine max L.) yields, the economic optimum N rate (EONR) using a 16-year field-experiment dataset from central Iowa, USA that included two crop sequences (continuous corn and soybean-corn) and five N fertilizer rates (0, 67, 134, 201, and 268 kg N ha-1) applied to corn. Our objectives were to: (a) quantify model prediction accuracy before and after calibration, and report calibration steps; (b) compare crop model-based techniques in estimating optimal N rate for corn; and (c) utilize the calibrated model to explain factors causing year to year variability in yield and optimal N. Results indicated that the model simulated well long-term crop yields response to N (relative root mean square error, RRMSE of 19.6% before and 12.3% after calibration), which provided strong evidence that important soil and crop processes were accounted for in the model. The prediction of EONR was more complex and had greater uncertainty than the prediction of crop yield (RRMSE of 44.5% before and 36.6% after calibration). For long-term site mean EONR predictions, both calibrated and uncalibrated versions can be used as the 16-year mean differences in EONR’s were within the historical N rate error range (40–50 kg N ha-1). However, for accurate year-by-year simulation of EONR the calibrated version should be used. Model analysis revealed that higher EONR values in years with above normal spring precipitation were caused by an exponential increase in N loss (denitrification and leaching) with precipitation. We concluded that long-term experimental data were valuable in testing and refining APSIM predictions. The model can be used as a tool to assist N management guidelines in the US Midwest and we identified five avenues on how the model can add value toward agronomic, economic, and environmental sustainability.

Comments

This is an article from Frontiers in Plant Science 7 (2016): 1630, doi:10.3389/fpls.2016.01630. This Document is Protected by copyright and was first published by Frontiers. All rights reserved. It is reproduced with permission.

Rights

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CCBY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited ,in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Copyright Owner

The Authors

Language

en

File Format

application/pdf

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