Critical nitrogen concentrations: implications for high-yielding rice (Oryza sativa L.) cultivars in the tropics uri icon

abstract

  • The critical nitrogen concentration of a plant can be defined as the minimum nitrogen concentration required for maximum growth rate at any time. It has been suggested that the relationship between the critical N concentration and dry matter per unit ground area for a wide range of crops is the same and is independent of climatic zone. Results presented in this paper support the concept of a critical N-dilution curve for yield of rice (Oryza sativa L.), which may be independent of climatic zone. The similarity between the nitrogen dilution curves for temperate and tropical environments indicates that there is no intrinsic difference in the ratio of carbon-to-nitrogen capture in those environments even though the final aboveground biomasses differed. Both the rate and duration of resource capture are probably limiting yields in tropical environments. In order to break through the current ceiling-yield barrier of approximately 10 t grain ha(-1) in the tropics, superior germplasm must be lodging resistant and capable of acquiring 144 kg N ha(-1) (N-0.5) in the first 35 days following transplanting. An examination of the rates of nitrogen acquisition indicated that more emphasis must be placed on providing sufficient nitrogen during the early stage of crop growth if higher yields are to be obtained. The time course of nitrogen accumulation by the aboveground biomass was calculated for weights greater than 1 t ha(-1) at weights less than this there were insufficient data to make calculations. At weights of aboveground biomass greater than 1 t ha(-1), the rate of nitrogen acquisition per unit ground area declined. The decline probably reflected a lowering in crop demand for soil nitrogen caused by the internal cycling of nitrogen from aging to young developing tissues; roots' age may also play a part in the decline. The estimated-rate of demand for nitrogen by the panicle exceeded the rate at which the aboveground biomass acquired it, emphasizing the importance of having a large 'reservoir' of nitrogen in vegetative tissues. Such a reservoir would ensure that the nitrogen demand of the panicle could be met without causing the photosynthetic capacity of the crop to prematurely lose its ability to meet the carbohydrate demand of the panicle. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 1998
  • 1998