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Winter wheat nitrogen management in south coastal British Columbia Yu, Shaobing


Nitrogen is essential to obtain high yields of winter wheat in south coastal British Columbia, which includes Vancouver Island and the lower Fraser Valley. An accurate recommendation for N application is required to keep input costs down for most economical returns and to limit environmental problems related to leaching of excess N. The questions are how much, when and which form of N should be applied to winter wheat. The general objective of this study is to improve our understanding of winter wheat growth and N uptake. This study monitors the soil N supply and characterizes the plant development, dry matter accumulation, and N uptake of winter wheat in South Coastal B.C.. Also, it compares the effectiveness of conventional and intensive crop N management and urea and ammonium nitrate sources of fertilizer N under intensive crop management. A series of field experiments was conducted in 1986-87 and 1987-88 with winter wheat to evaluate conventional and intensive N management in the area. Additionally, a N source study was carried out in the latter year to compare ammonium nitrate and urea. Soil N supply for winter wheat ranged from 52 to 151 kg N/ha through the two years of field experiments at five sites. Available N in the 0-50 cm soil depth varied from 10 to 100 kg N/ha through the growing season in the different treatments. An accurate estimate of N behavior involves N accumulation in the crop. During the early spring until harvest, the crop dry matter yield and N uptake patterns were plotted. The grain yields ranged from 4 to 9 t/ha for the conventional management (75 kg N/ha), and from 4 to 11 t/ha for the intensive crop management (I.CM. 225 kg N/ha) system. Between the conventional and I.CM., there was no significant difference in grain yield but there was in quality, specifically grain protein. Grain protein ranged from 8.2 to 9.7% for the conventional and from 10 to 13.7% for the I.CM. treatment. Also, there was no difference in grain yield or quality between ammonium nitrate and urea fertilized plots at final harvest. However, in the early stage at GS31, crop took up more N from ammonium nitrate (97 kg N/ha) than from urea (75 kg N/ha) and soil mineral N levels with urea were higher than with ammonium nitrate.

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