A meta-analysis of sugarbeet yield responses to nitrogen fertilizer measured in England since 1980
Jaggard, K. W.
Armstrong, M. J.
The data from 161 experiments testing the response of sugarbeet yield to nitrogen fertilizer were assembled in a database. Three commonly used N response models (Mitscherlich, linear plus exponential and bilinear) were fitted to each set of fertilizer application rates and the models were then assessed on how well they fitted all the data. The bilinear model was judged the most appropriate model for fitting to beet root yield adjusted to a standard sugar concentration. The optimum N application was determined for each experiment. Attempts were then made to correlate these optima with factors associated with the site and the season (winter rainfall, soil texture, amount of soil mineral N at sowing, sowing date, summer rainfall and harvest date). Beet grown in peat soil never responded significantly to any applied N fertilizer and neither did crops treated recently with organic manure supplying large amounts (> 150 kg N/ha) of available N. Variation in N optima between other sites could not be explained by factors that could be used to predict the amount of fertilizer to apply. In the absence of any method to make reliable predictions of variations in fertilizer need, the most economical uniform amount Was calculated. At present fertilizer prices and beet values, this amount is between 100 and 110 kg N/ha. It is possible that the N fertilizer need of beet crops does not vary predictably because this variation is all experimental error. The crop needs a reasonably standard application of fertilizer because much N has to be taken up early in the Crop's development, rapidly and predominantly from the topsoil that, at this stage, contains most of the small fibrous root system.