Nitrogen fixation by the Haber–Bosch process has more than doubled the amount of fixed N on Earth, signifi cantly infl uencing the global N cycle. Much of this fixed N is made into N fertilizer that is used to produce nearly half of the world’s food. Too much of the N fertilizer pollutes air and water when it is lost from agroecosystems through volatilization, denitrifi cation, leaching, and runoff. Most of the N fertilizer used in the United States is applied to corn (Zea mays L.), and the profi tability and environmental footprint of corn production is directly tied to N fertilizer applications. Accurately predicting the amount of N needed by corn, however, has proven to be challenging because of the eff ects of rainfall, temperature, and interactions with soil properties on the N cycle. For this reason, improving N recommendations is critical for profi table corn production and for reducing N losses to the environment. The objectives of this paper were to review current methods for estimating N needs of corn by: (i) reviewing fundamental background information about how N recommendations are created; (ii) evaluating the performance, strengths, and limitations of systems and tools used for making N fertilizer recommendations; (iii) discussing how adaptive management principles and methods can improve recommendations; and (iv) providing a framework for improving N fertilizer rate recommendations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agronomy and Crop Science