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Nitrogen Fertilization Strategies in Relation to Potato Tuber Yield, Quality, and Crop N Recovery

Zebarth, B.J., G. Belanger, A.N. Cambouris and N. Ziadi. 2012. Springer Netherlands

Abstract

In this chapter, we discuss the challenges to optimizing nitrogen (N) management in rain-fed potato production in eastern Canada, and evaluate a series of N fertilization strategies for their effects on tuber yield, size distribution and quality and on apparent recovery of fertilizer N by the potato crop. Selection of the optimal fertilizer N rate remains one of the most important decisions for growers. Optimal fertilizer N management is necessary to achieve economic goals associated with tuber yield and size, whereas over-fertilization greatly increases the risk of environmental losses of N and of reduced tuber quality. However, large variations in crop N demand and soil N supply among fields and among years, and also within fields, make selection of an optimal fertilizer N rate problematic. Improved predictions of crop demand and soil supply both in time and in space will be required to address this. Fertilizer N management can also be improved through appropriate timing of fertilizer application, fertilizer placement, and fertilizer formulation. Efficiency of N management can be improved through development of N management systems on a whole-field basis, or on a within-field basis using Site Specific Nutrient Management (SSNM), where soil-based tests are used to determine at-planting N management and plant-based or soil-based tests are used for in-season N management. In addition, use of controlled release fertilizer products can be beneficial in soils where the risks of leaching losses are high. In order to manage N efficiently and sustainably, it is important to consider N management as one component of an integrated cropping system.