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Will breeding for nitrogen use efficient crops lead to nitrogen use efficient cropping systems? a simulation study of GxExM interactions

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The benefits of improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in crops are typically studied through the performance of the individual crop. However, in order to increase yields in a sustainable way, improving NUE of the cropping systems must be the aim. We did a model simulation study to investigate how improvement of NUE traits of individual crops affects the succeeding crops and the NUE of the crop rotation. Based on experimental results parameterization was altered for different types of improved NUE in the EU-Rotate_N model, e.g. through higher N harvest index, reduced litter loss or improved root depth penetration rate. The different ways of improving NUE have different effects on the cropping system, affecting either N uptake, the ability of the crop to hold on to N already taken up, or the fraction of crop N being harvested. Due to the different modes of action, the model simulations show that these changes in NUE traits will also have different effects on N leaching loss and on N availability and N loss in the following years. Simulations also show that the effect of genotypes with improved NUE depend on environment and crop management. This is true for the improved crop itself and when its effect is analyzed for the whole cropping system. The environmental conditions, crop choices and management will all affect the fate of the N left in the soil, and whether this will contribute mainly to leaching loss or be used for production in later crops. As an example, increasing pre-crop fertilization was shown to affect the leaching after the following oilseed rape crop with up to 50 kg N ha−1 taken up before it was lost to the environment when pre-crop fertilization as well as root depth penetration rate was high. All in all, the simulations illustrate the concept of NUE as the result of interactions between genotype, environment and crop management (G×E×M).
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftEuphytica
Vol/bind199
Udgave nummer1-2
Sider (fra-til)97-117
Antal sider21
ISSN0014-2336
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2014

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