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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Agricultural Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #372435

Research Project: Ecologically-Sound Pest, Water and Soil Management Practices for Northern Great Plains Cropping Systems

Location: Agricultural Systems Research

Title: Nitrogen fertilization rate and method influences water and nitrogen productivity of forage winter wheat

item LENSSEN, ANDREW - Iowa State University
item Sainju, Upendra
item JONES, CLAIN - Montana State University
item MCVAY, KENT - Montana State University
item ANGVICK, TERRY - Montana State University

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/9/2020
Publication Date: 12/30/2020
Publication URL:
Citation: Lenssen, A.W., Sainju, U.M., Jones, C., Mcvay, K., Angvick, T. 2020. Nitrogen fertilization rate and method influences water and nitrogen productivity of forage winter wheat. Agronomy Journal. 113(1):577-589.

Interpretive Summary: Annual cereal forages can be grown well, but the effect of nitrogen fertilization rate and method on forage productivity and quality are unknown in the northern Great Plains. ARS researchers in collaboration with Iowa State University and Montana State University reported that banded application of nitrogen fertilizer increased winter wheat forage nitrogen accumulation by 11% compared to broadcast application. Increased nitrogen fertilization rate increased, wheat density, height, forage biomass, and water and nitrogen productivity increased from 24 to 78%. Banded application of N fertilizer at 50 lb N/ac can enhance winter wheat forage productivity and quality.

Technical Abstract: Spring-seeded annual forages are well adapted to the Great Plains; however, the influence of application rate and method of N fertilization on productivity of winter wheat (WW) (Triticum aestivum L.) forage is unknown. A field study was conducted in a factorial design for three years to determine the influence of N application rate and method on water and N productivity of awnletted WW ‘Willow Creek’. Urea was either broadcast or banded at planting using N fertilization rates of 0, 28, 56, and 84 kg N ha-1. The N application rate × method interaction was significant only for WW height. Weed biomass was low at WW forage harvest, 19 kg ha-1. As N fertilization rate increased from 0 to 84 kg N ha-1, wheat stem density and height increased by 70 and 78%, respectively, and biomass yield increased by 58%. Increased N rate increased WW water use, but water productivity (kg biomass ha-1 mm-1) was 68% greater at 84 kg N ha-1. However, N application method did not influence water use or productivity. Banded N application increased N accumulation in WW biomass by 11% compared to broadcast N. Increasing N rate reduced N productivity by 24% compared to 0 kg N ha-1. Willow Creek WW responded well with increased N fertilization rate and banded application and is a highly productive fall-planted forage in this predominantly spring-planted small grain-grain legume region.