During the past 70 years, hybrid corn varieties have increased both yield and nitrogen use efficiency at nearly the same pace, largely by preserving leaf function during grain filling. The Purdue University study’s findings offer strategies for corn breeders who want to continue to improve yields and nutrient efficiencies.
“There’s been a progressive improvement in nitrogen use efficiency in corn hybrids. That’s coming about as yields have increased while modern hybrids were able to capture more and more of the fertilizer nitrogen applied,” said [Tony Vyn, a professor in Purdue’s Department of Agronomy], whose findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Over the last 70 years, genetic improvements have led to an 89 percent increase in grain yields and a 73 percent increase in nitrogen use efficiency from early hybrids to today, the study finds.
“There’s been a plateau in nitrogen fertilizer rates applied to corn in the U.S. since the 1980s,” Vyn said. “But we’re capturing more of the fertilizer we apply so that less is lost while more of the nitrogen captured by the plant is creating grain.”
Read full, original article: Study highlights nitrogen efficiency gains in corn hybrids over 70 years