Spectral sensors prove beneficial in determining nitrogen fertilizer needs of Urochloa brizantha cv. Xaraés grass in Brazil

Helizani C. Bazame, Francisco A.C. Pinto, Domingos S. Queiroz, Daniel M. de Queiroz, Daniel Althoff


The objective of the present work was to evaluate the use of spectral sensors to determine nitrogen fertilizer requirements for pastures of Urochloa brizantha cv. Xaraés in Brazil. The experimental design was a randomized block design with 4 replications of 4 treatments: a control treatment (TT) without application of N; a reference treatment (TR) with N applied at a standard predetermined fixed rate (150 kg urea/ha/cycle); a treatment using GreenSeekerTM (TG) to determine N requirement by the canopy normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI); and a treatment using SPAD 502 (TS) to determine N requirement by foliar chlorophyll assessment. For treatments involving spectral sensors, N fertilizer was applied at half the rate of that in the reference treatment at the beginning of each cycle and further N was applied only when the nitrogen sufficiency index dropped below 0.85. The sensors used in the work indicated that no additional N fertilizer was required by these pastures above the half rates applied. Applying N at the reduced rates to the pastures was more efficient than the pre-determined fixed rate, as both sensor treatments and the fixed rate treatment produced similar total forage yields, with similar crude protein concentrations. All fertilized pastures supported similar stocking rates, while the sensor treatments used less N fertilizer, i.e. 75 kg urea/ha/cycle less than the reference plot. Longer-term studies to verify these findings are warranted followed by promotion of the technology to farmers to possibly reduce fertilizer application rates, improve profitability and provide environmental benefits.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17138/tgft(8)60-71


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