Synergism of Sulfur Availability and Agronomic Nitrogen Use Efficiency

Nutrient management strategies that exploit nutrient elements’ synergistic interaction to enhance nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) are needed for economic and environmental reasons. A field study was carried out during the 2020–2022 growing seasons at six locations in three countries: two each in the USA, Ghana, and Mali using three sulfur (S) sources with different bioavailability levels (micronized elemental sulfur, untreated elemental sulfur, and ammonium sulfate); applied at five S application rates: site‐specific recommended S rate (SR), 25%, 50%, 75%, and 125% of SR; and a single N application rate (site‐specific recommended N rate) to comprehensively investigate the influence of S availability on NUE. Specific objectives were to evaluate the impact of S availability on corn ( Zea mays L.) yield, N uptake, and NUE. Regardless of the S source and experimental site, the aboveground S and N uptake were strongly and positively correlated (r > 0.88). Increases in apparent N recovery efficiency and agronomic NUE occurred with corresponding increases in S application rate, irrespective of the site and S source. The combined data showed that the agronomic efficiency of applied N fertilizer sources could be enhanced significantly by increasing S availability in soils. With the rising N fertilizer costs in recent times, N losses from the applied fertilizer are a drain on farmers’ income, and of environmental concern. Thus, increasing NUE is a needed strategy to safeguard against excessive N application, increase farm profits, and minimize N losses to the environment that could disrupt the ecosystem function.
Agyin‐Birikorang, S., Boubakry, C., Kadyampakeni, D. M., Adu‐Gyamfi, R., Chambers, R. A., Tindjina, I., & Fuseni, A. R. A. Synergism of sulfur availability and agronomic nitrogen use efficiency. Agronomy Journal.