Date of this Version
2020 by the authors.
Global nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) for cereal production is marginal and is estimated to be about 33%. Remote sensing tools have tremendous potential for improving NUE in crops through efficient nitrogen management as well as the identification of high-NUE genotypes. The objectives of this study were (i) to identify and quantify the variation in NUE across 24 winter wheat genotypes (Triticum aestivum L.) and (ii) to determine if the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) could characterize the variability in NUE across wheat genotypes. This study was conducted in 2010 and 2011 in the semi-arid climate of Northeastern Colorado across dryland and irrigated conditions. Our results indicate significant variation in the NUE among genotypes across two irrigation conditions. We observed a strong relationship between the NDVI and NUE—as PFP (partial factor productivity) and PNB (partial nitrogen balance)—across the 24 wheat genotypes under dryland conditions (average R2 for PFP and PNB = 0.84) at Feekes growth stage 11.1, for site year II. However, poor association was observed under irrigated conditions (average R2 for PFP and PNB = 0.29) at Feekes growth stage 3 to 4 for site year II. This study demonstrates the potential and limitations of active canopy sensing to successfully characterize the variability in NUE across wheat genotypes.