Nitrogen management strategies for maize production systems: Experimental data and crop modeling

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Smallholder Cropping Systems Program, SPAF, Federal University of Pelotas, UFPEL, Pelotas, RS, Brazil.

2 Embrapa Maize and Sorghum, Rod. MG 424, Km 45, Zona Rural, P.O. Box 151, ZIP Code 35702-098, Sete Lagoas, MG, Brazil

3 AgWeatherNet, Washington State University, 24106 North Bunn Road, Prosser, Washington, 99350-8694, USA.

4 Assistant Professor, UNIFEMM, Sete Lagos, MG, Brazil.

5 Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, Southwest Research & Outreach Center 23669 130th Street Lamberton, MN 56152, USA.

6 Embrapa Maize and Sorghum, Rod. MG 424, Km 45, Zona Rural, P.O. Box 151, ZIP Code 35702-098, Sete Lagoas, MG, Brazil.

Abstract

Maize (Zea mays L.) is an important crop among Brazilian smallholder farmers,
who are also responsible for 40% of the poultry and egg production in the country.
Although poultry litter is considered a potential pollutant, if properly stabilized and
distributed in the field it can be used as a source of nitrogen for maize production.
In this study, the response of maize to mineral fertilizer and poultry litter as source
of nitrogen was evaluated and the results were then used to parameterize a processbased model. For both sources of nitrogen used in the second trial the average
observed yield was higher than the average yield obtained by farmers during the
preceding years, indicating that there is a potential for improvement of maize yield
in the region. A rate of 195 kg ha-1 of nitrogen as poultry litter provided a slightly
higher yield than a rate of 145 kg ha-1 of nitrogen as mineral fertilizer. After
adjustments in the CSM-CERES-Maize cultivar-specific coefficients the model
satisfactorily simulated maize anthesis, physiological maturity and yield. Poultry
litter has the potential to be an alternative source of nitrogen for maize production
in smallholder farms. The CSM-CERES-Maize model properly simulated maize
growth, development and yield for both, mineral fertilizer and poultry litter sources
of nitrogen.


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