Developing active canopy sensor-based precision nitrogen management strategies for maize in Northeast China

Xinbing Wang, Yuxin Miao, Rui Dong, Zhichao Chen, Yanjie Guan, Xuezhi Yue, Zheng Fang, David J. Mulla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Precision nitrogen (N) management (PNM) strategies are urgently needed for the sustainability of rain-fed maize (Zea mays L.) production in Northeast China. The objective of this study was to develop an active canopy sensor (ACS)-based PNM strategy for rain-fed maize through improving in-season prediction of yield potential (YP0), response index to side-dress N based on harvested yield (RIHarvest), and side-dress N agronomic efficiency (AENS). Field experiments involving six N rate treatments and three planting densities were conducted in three growing seasons (2015-2017) in two different soil types. A hand-held GreenSeeker sensor was used at V8-9 growth stage to collect normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and ratio vegetation index (RVI). The results indicated that NDVI or RVI combined with relative plant height (NDVI*RH or RVI*RH) were more strongly related to YP0 (R2 = 0.44-0.78) than only using NDVI or RVI (R2 = 0.26-0.68). The improvedNfertilizer optimization algorithm (INFOA) using in-season predicted AENS optimized N rates better than the N fertilizer optimization algorithm (NFOA) using average constant AENS. The INFOA-based PNM strategies could increase marginal returns by 212 $ ha-1 and 70 $ ha-1, reduce N surplus by 65% and 62%, and improve N use efficiency (NUE) by 4%-40% and 11%-65% compared with farmer's typical N management in the black and aeolian sandy soils, respectively. It is concluded that the ACS-based PNM strategies have the potential to significantly improve profitability and sustainability of maize production in Northeast China. More studies are needed to further improve N management strategies using more advanced sensing technologies and incorporating weather and soil information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number706
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 29 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors.


  • Plant height
  • Precision nitrogen management
  • Profitability
  • Soil type
  • Sustainability


Dive into the research topics of 'Developing active canopy sensor-based precision nitrogen management strategies for maize in Northeast China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this