Improving nitrogen use efficiency in Caribbean agriculture. (109)
Keywords:Nitrogen use efficiency, nitrogen fertilizer, nitrogen management, nitrogen rich strip, Caribbean region
AbstractOne of the major ways to increase crop and forage production is by applying more fertilizer. The increased demand and cost for fertilizer worldwide will significantly affect the ability of Caribbean countries to increase crop and animal productivity through the application of fertilizer. Thus, there is a need for the implementation of management practices that can increase fertilizer use efficiency particularly nitrogen. Therefore, the goal of this paper is to discuss two nitrogen management approaches that could improve nitrogen use efficiency in the region without applying more fertilizer. Nitrogen is the most important nutrient in crop and forage production. It is used in the largest amount and is also imported and consumed in the largest quantity in the Caribbean region. There are numerous factors that can affect nitrogen use efficiency, which is vital to increasing crop production within the region. The concepts of using a nitrogen rich strip (NRS) and fertilizing by- nutrients as management tools for nitrogen fertilizer application within the Caribbean are two approaches for improving nitrogen use efficiency. The NRS is created by selecting an area in the field that is a good representation of the field and applying sufficient N at or near planting so that N is non-limiting. The benefit of NRS is that it provides an estimate of how much nitrogen was delivered to the crop for free by nitrogen mineralization and atmospheric deposition. Nitrogen fertilized by-nutrient resulted in the selection of the N source with greater N content thus decreasing N cost per unit. The NRS and by-nutrient N management are simple and affordable approaches that could increase crop production within the Caribbean region without applying more fertilizer.