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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Model Analysis of Sorghum Response to Nitrogen in Subtropical and Tropical Environments


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 89 No. 2, p. 201-207
    Received: June 3, 1996

    * Corresponding author(s): aksch@gnv.ifas.ufl.edu
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  1. Thomas R. Sinclair ,
  2. Russell C. Muchow and
  3. John L. Monteith
  1. U SDA-ARS, Agronomy Dep., Agronomy Physiology Lab., Bldg. 164, Univ. of Florida, P.O. Box 110840, Gainesville, FL 32611-0840
    C unningham Lab., Div. of Tropical Crops and Pastures, 306 Carmody Rd., St. Lucia, Brisbane, QLD 4067, Australia
    I nst. of Terrestrial Ecology, Edinburgh Res. Stn., Bush Estate, Penicuik, Modlothian, EH26 0QB, Scotland, UK



Nitrogen fertilization is important in achieving high sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moencb] yields. Under semiarid conditions, however, the response to N is confounded by seasonal differences in water availability. A simple, mechanistic model was developed to interpret measurements of the growth and yield of sorghum at different levels of N and water supply. The structure of the sorghum-N model was equivalent to a previously developed maize-N (Zea mays L.) model, including the N uptake function, which depends on thermal units. The sorghum-N model was developed considering experimental results obtained in the tropical clinhate of Katherine, Australia. After adjusting coefficients to describe leaf and grain development for sorghum instead of maize, the model simulated crop N uptake, growth, and grain yield. Without any further changes in the model, sorghum grown in the subtropical climate of Lawes, Australia, with grain yields ranging from 121 to 886 g m−2, was well simulated by the model. A third set of data obtained in an irrigation-N application experiment at Hyderabad, India, was compared against model results. After adjusting the coefficients that describe the development of the cuitivar and the soil organic content at this location, the model produced results comparable to experimental results. Analysis of the model results led to two interesting hypotheses concerning the experiment at Hyderabad: (i) the irrigation level of the well-watered treatment appeared to be inadequate to avoid drought stress at the end of the cropping season, and (ii) there was seemingly about 4 g N m−2 of s oil N unavailable to the crop in each of the irrigation treatments. Overall, the sorghum-N model proved useful in interpreting and analyzing field measurements of development, growth, and yield of sorghum grown under diverse conditions.

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