Optimization of Fertilizer Use and Determination of Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Sugarcane

Document Type : Research Article




In recent years, farmers have shown a high tendency towards using different types of chemical fertilizers, including nitrogen, to reach the maximum crop yield. This attitude is le to problems such as environmental pollution, reducing the quality and lowering health of the agricultural products. In addition it is strongly evidenced that use efficiency of applied nitrogen will be reduced with increasing fertilizer rate. To achieve high cane yields application of nitrogen fertilizer in sugarcane cultivation is absolutely necessary and inevitable. However, use efficiency of applied nitrogen in sugarcane production areas of Iran is not fully investigated. In this research nitrogen uptake, utilization and use efficiency of sugarcane is studied under different rates and methods of fertilizer application.

Materials and Methods
The experiment was conducted at one of the sugarcane fields in the Imam Khomeini Agro-industrial Complex located in Shushtar city, Khuzestan province in 2014-2015. The experiment was conducted as a split plot based on randomized complete block design with three replications. Five levels of nitrogen application rate`( 0 , 100 , 150 , 200 , 250 kg N ha-1 ) were assigned to the main plots and two fertilizer splitting methods (splitting to three and four portions) were allocated to sub plots. Nitrogen fertilizer was mixed with irrigation water. Every two weeks, whole sugarcane plant in each plot was cut and weighted after drying. Dry matter yield of aboveground organs and nitrogen content of the whole plant was measured in a composite sample taken from the harvested crop. In order to study the nitrogen efficiency, its components including Nitrogen Apparent Recovery Efficiency (NARE), Nitrogen Physiological Efficiency (NPE), Nitrogen Agronomic Efficiency (NAE) and Nitrogen Partial Factor Productivity (NPFP) were calculated. The data were subjected to analysis of variance and means were compared by Duncan's multiple range test at probability level of 5% .

Results and Discussion
Nitrogen application rates were significantly different in terms of NARE, NAE and NPFP, so that these indices decreased with increasing nitrogen level. The application of nitrogen fertilizer in comparison with unfertilized control caused an increase of about 44% in sugarcane yield. Increasing the number of fertilizer splits had no significant effect on sugarcane yield. Increasing nitrogen application rate resulted in a significant reduction in NARE of sugarcane, but NAE was increased significantly with increasing the number of fertilizer splits. Application of nitrogen in comparison to control increased the dry matter yield by 20.5 ton per hectare (up to 41%). NARE and NAE on the basis of dry matter yield were decreased with increasing nitrogen rates. The same results was obtained when NARE and NAE were calculated for sugar yield.

Application of 150 kg N per hectare with 134 tons cane yield and 14.53 tons sugar yield per hectare can be recommended as the nitrogen application arte considering economic issues. The NARE of this level of nitrogen was reasonably good and about 57%. Furthermore, its NARE, was 385.8 kg for cane and 40.37 kg of sugar, per kg of applied nitrogen. Applying this amount of nitrogen NPFP of 893.28 kg cane and 96.99 kg of sugar per kg of nitrogen could be achieved. Further investigations on the environmental impacts of nitrogen fertilizers in sugarcane production systems of Iran are required.


Ahmed, M.A., H. Ferweez, and Saher, M.A. 2009. The optimum yield and quality properties of sugarcane under different organic, nitrogen and potassium fertilizers levels. Journal Agriculture Research Kafer El-Sheikh University. 35(3): 879-896.
Alcoz, M. M., F. M. Homs, and Haby, V. A.1993. Nitrogen fertilization timing effect on wheat production, nitrogen uptake efficiency, and residual nitrogen. Agronomy Journal. 85:1198-1203.
Al.Sogheir, K. and Ferweez, H. 2009. Optimum harvesting age of some promising sugar cane genotypes grown under different nitrogen fertilizer levels. Egyptian Journal of Applied Science. 24(3): 195-214.
Archna, S., A. K. Shrivastava, A. Gaur, P. Singh, J. Singh and Yadav, R. L. 2008. Nitrogen use efficiency of sugarcane in relation to its BNF potential and population of endophytic diazotrophs at different N levels. Plant Growth Regulation. 54: 1-11.
Asokan, S. and Mahadevaswamy, M. 2003. Effect of nitrogen and spacing on the yield of sugarcane and uptake of nitrogen. Madras Agriculture Journal. 90(10-12):671-674.
Baba zadeh, SH., M. Nahvi, M. Kavoosi, M. Rezaei, and Gholipour, M. 2010. Effect of different levels of nitrogen fertilizer anf its distribution on recovery, agronomic and physiological efficiency of nitrogen in hybrid rice. papers of 11th Iranian Crop Science Congress. Environmental Sciences Research Institute, shahid Beheshti university, Tehran. Pages: 4930-4932.
Bahmani, O. 2011.Water stress management for optimal water and nitrogen fertilizer use in sugarcane growing areas. 2011. Iranian Water Research Journal. 5(8): 153-160.
Barbieri, P.A., H. E. Echeverria, and SainzRozas, H.R. 2008. Nitrogen use efficiency in maize as affected by nitrogen available and row spacing. Agronomy Journal, 100: 1094- 1100.
Blackshaw, R.E., R. N. Brandt, H. Hanzen, T. Entz, C.A. Grant, and Derksen, D.A. 2008. Differential response of used specie to added nitrogen. Weed Science, 51: 532-539.
Broadbent, F. E., S. K. Dedatta, and Laureles, E. V. 1987. Measurement of nitrogen utilization efficiency in rice genotype. Agronomy Journal. 79: 786-791.
Cook, G.W. 1987. Maximizing fertilizer efficiency by overcoming constraints. Journal Plant Nutrition. 10: 1357-1369.
Crasswell, E. T. 1987. The efficiency of urea fertilization under different environmental conditions. Soil. Science Society American Journal. 62:930-937.
De Geus, J.G. 1973. Sugar crops. Pp. 136 . 182. In: De Geus JG., (ed). Fertilizer guide for the Tropics and Subtropics. 2nd ed., Centre D'Etude de L'Azote, Zurick.
Dobermann, A. 2007. Nutrient use efficiency-measurement and management. p.1-28. In Fertilizer Best Management Practices. Proceedings of IFA International Workshop, 7-9 March. 2007. Brussels, Belgium.
Erisman, J. W., M.A. Sutton, J. Galloway, Z. Klimont, and Winiwarter, W. 2008. How a Century of ammonia synthesis changed the world Nature. Geoscience, 1, 636-639.
Fathi, G. A., H. Nouryani, and K. Alami saeed. 2001. Investigating the effect of nitrogen efficiency under different methods of nitrogen usage. Summary of articles of the 2nd National Conference on Optimum Use of Fertilizer and Poison in Agriculture. Pages: 319-320.
Gan, Y., S. S. Malhi, S. Brandt, F. Katepa-Mupondwa, and Stevanson, C. 2008. Nitrogen use efficiency and nitrogen uptake of junceaCanola under diverse environments. Journal Agronomy. 100: 285-295.
Gana, A. K. 2008. Determination of optimal rate of nitrogen for chewing sugarcane production in the Southern Guinea Savanna of Nigeria. Sugar Technologists. 10: 278-279.
George O. Achieng, Samwel O. Nyandere, Philip O. Owuor, Gordon O. Abayoand and Chrispine O. Omondi.2013. Effects of Rate and Split Application of Nitrogen Fertilizer on Yield of Two Sugarcane Varieties from Ratoon Crop. Greener Journal of Agricultural Sciences. Vol. 3 (3), pp. 235-239.
Gholizadeh, A., S. Lorzadeh, and Aryan nia, N. 2010. Evaluation of nitrogen use efficiency under different methods of nitrogen fertilizer application on nitrogen harvest index, agronomic efficiency, physiological efficiency and apparent recovery efficiency of maize S.C.704 cultivar in khouzestan. Articles of 11th Iranian Crop Science Congress. Environmental Sciences Research Institute, shahid Beheshti university, Tehran. Pages: 2692-2695.
Good, A., A. K. Shrawat, and Muench, D. G. 2004. Can less yield more? Is reducing nitrogen input into the environment compatible with maintaining crop production? Trends in Plant Science 9: 597–605.
Guardda, G., S. Padovan, and Delogu, G. 2004. Grain yield, nitrogen use efficiency and baking quality of old and modern Italian bred-wheat cultivars grown at different nitrogen levels. European journal of agronomy. 21: 181-192.
Huggins, D. R., and Pan, W. L. 1993. Nitrogen efficiency component analysis: an evaluation of cropping system differences in productivity. Journal Agronomy. 85: 898-905.
Koocheki, A., M. Hosseini, and Hashemi Dezfuli, A. 1995. Sustainable Agriculture Systems. Mashhad University Press.
Koocheki, A., M. N. Mahalati, R. A. Moradi, and Alizadeh, Y. 2015. Effect of different nitrogen levels on performance and nitrogen use efficiency in maize and cotton mixed crops. Iranian Journal of Agriculture Research. 13(1): 1-13.
Koteva, V., and Marcheva, M. 2012a. Productivity of common wheat variety Mirjana grown with reduced mineral fertilizing. Soil Science, Agrochemistry and Ecology, 3: 55-62 .
Lopez-Bellido, L., Lopez-Bellido, R. J., and Redondo, R.. 2005. Nitrogen efficiency in wheat under rainfed Mediterranean conditions as affected by split nitrogen application. Field Crops Research. 94: 86 -97.
Martin, F. A. 1994. Standard Operating Procedures Manual for the Louisiana Sugarcane Variety Development Program, version 1994. LSU Agricultural. Exp. Station., Baton Rouge, LA.
Muchovej, R. and Newman, P. 2004. Nitrogen fertilization of sugarcane on sandy soil: I. Yield and leaf nutrient composition. Journal American Society Sugarcane Technologists. 24: 210-224.
Nassiri, M. and Koochecki, A. 2017.Life cycle assessment in wheat production systems in Iran: comparison of input levels. Journal of Agroecology. 9(4): 1-25.
Nassiri, M. and Koochecki, A. 2017. Trend analysis of nitrogen use and productivity in wheat ( Triticum aestivum L. ) production systems of iran. Journal of Agroecology. 9(2): 360-378.
Novoa, R. and Loomis, R. S. 1981. Nitrogen and plant production. Plant Soil. 58: 177-204.
Panayotova, G., and Kostadinova, S. 2016. Partial factor productivity of nitrogen fertilizer on grain and grain protein yield of durum wheat cultivars. Agricultural science and technology. Vol.8, no. 1. pp: 28-36.
Peng, S., R. J. Buresh, J. Huang, J. Yang, Y. Zou, X. Zhong, G. Wang, and Zhang, F. (2006). Strategies for overcoming low agronomic nitrogen use efficiency in irrigated rice system in China. Field Crops Research, 96, 37-47.
Peng, Y., J. Niu, Z. Peng, F. Zhang, and Li, C. 2010. Shoot growth potential drives N uptake in maize plants and correlates with root growth in the soil. Field Crops Research. 115:85-93.
Plenet, D., and Lemaire, G. 2000. Relationship between dynamics of nitrogen uptake and dry matter accumulation in maize crops. Determination of critical N concentration. Plant Soil. 216: 65-82.
Rattey, A. R. and Hogarth, D. M. 2001. The effect of different nitrogen rates on CCS accumulation over time. In proceeding international society of sugar cane technologists. Brisbane, Australia, 24, 168-170.
Raun, W.R., and Johnson, G.V. 1999. Improving nitrogen use efficiency for cereal production. Agronomy Journal, 91: 357-363.
Robinson, N., A. Fletcher, A. Whan, C. Critchely, N. Von Wiren, P. Lakshmanan and Schmidt, S. 2007. Sugarcane genotypes differ in internal nitrogen use efficiency. Functional Plant Biology. 34: 1122-1129.
Rizk, N. S., A.Y. El Bashbishy, and Rasian, M.E. 2002. Effect of macro and micro-nutrients and farmyard manure on sugar cane. Annals of Agriculture science Moshtohor. 40(4): 2311-2316.
Salamati, N., M. Delbari, F. Abbasi, A. Sheini dashtgol, P. Afrasiab, and Karandish, F. 2015. Study of the effect of splitting and different amounts of urea fertilizer on furrow irrigation and yield and some quantitative and qualitative characteristics of sugarcane cultivar CP69-1062. Iranian Journal of Soil and Water Research. 2: 195-205.
Sattermacher, B., W. J. Horst, and Becker, H. C. 1994. Factors that contribute to genetic variation for nutrient efficiency of crop plants. Z. Pflanzenern. Bodenk. 157:215-224.
Semenov, M. A., P. D. Jamieson, and Martre, P. 2007. De convoluting nitrogen use efficiency in wheat: A simulation study. European Journal Agronomy. 26: 283-294.
Shomeili, M., and Bahrani, M. J. 2013. Effect of irrigation and nitrogen on sugarcane yield,water-use efficiency, soil moisture depletion and nitrogen uptake in iran. Proceeding International Society Sugar Cane Technologists. Vol. 28.
Srivastava, S.C., and Suarez, N. R.1992. Sugarcane. In: W. Wichmann, editor, World Fertilizer use manual. BASF AG, Germany. p. 257-266.
Thornburn, P.J., E.A. Meiera, and Probert, M.E. 2005. Modelling nitrogen dynamics in sugarcane systems. Recent advantages and applications. Field Crop Research. 92: 317-351.
Tilman, D., K.G. Cassman, P.A. Matson, R. Naylor, and Polasky, S. 2002. Agricultural sustainability and intensive production practices. Nature. 418: 671-677.
Uribelarre, M., S. P. Moose, and Below, F .E. 2007. Divergent selection for grain protein affects nitrogen use in maize hybrids. Field Crops Research. 100: 82-90.
Vallis, I., V. R. Catchpoole, R. M. Hughes, R. J. K. Myers, D.R. Ridge, and Weier, K.L. 1996. Recovery in plants and soils of 15N applied as subsurface bands of urea to sugarcane. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 47,355–370. doi: 10.1071/AR9960355.
Wood, R.A. 1964. Analogous nitrogen mineralization effects produced by soils under grass leys and sugar cane. International Congress on Soil Science, 8:255-260.

Articles in Press, Accepted Manuscript
Available Online from 01 January 2024
  • Receive Date: 13 December 2017
  • Accept Date: 13 December 2017
  • First Publish Date: 27 November 2020