Strategies to improve nitrogen use efficiency and yields in UK forage crops

Capstaff, Nicola (2019) Strategies to improve nitrogen use efficiency and yields in UK forage crops. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Grasses and lucerne are the main crops of choice for dried forage crop growers in the UK, who use vegetative forage tissue to formulate bulk animal feeds. To maximise yield, the forage crop industry uses substantial fertiliser applications, however not efficiently, which is directly related to limited research into forages. Efficiency must be increased throughout the industry; therefore this thesis aims to investigate several strategies to increase yield and efficiency of UK forage crop production. Firstly, a range of nitrogen status marker genes for use in forage crops were validated in the laboratory. Testing of field samples showed a link between soil conditions and future yields. This provides knowledge platforms that can be used by growers to ensure adequate, but not excessive, fertiliser use. Soil nitrate availability to forage crops was tested with a new method using soil columns in conjunction with nitrate-selective sensors. This method provided extensive data of the soil nitrate profile in columns, and showed to be superior to techniques in current published literature. The data collected with the use of soil columns and nitrate-selective sensors was then used to investigate management practices, including how defoliation and intercropping can affect soil profiles. Next, the potential of the biostimulant fulvic acid to increase vegetative yield in forage crops was investigated. It was found that the treatment with fulvic acid resulted in vegetative yield increases in numerous lucerne cultivars, across a range of growth conditions. Furthermore, it was observed that nodulation and microbial growth was also affected by fulvic acid treatment. To assess the mode of the action that determines biomass increases transcriptome analysis was undertaken, which suggested fulvic acid may be a viable biostimulant for lucerne, providing yield increases without significantly higher inputs. Taken together, this research provides a great resource of information to aid growers in producing high quality forage more efficiently.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Katherine Whittaker
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2020 14:57
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2023 01:38


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