Agricultural Science Digest

  • Chief EditorArvind kumar

  • Print ISSN 0253-150X

  • Online ISSN 0976-0547

  • NAAS Rating 5.52

  • SJR 0.156

Frequency :
Bi-monthly (February, April, June, August, October and December)
Indexing Services :
BIOSIS Preview, Biological Abstracts, Elsevier (Scopus and Embase), AGRICOLA, Google Scholar, CrossRef, CAB Abstracting Journals, Chemical Abstracts, Indian Science Abstracts, EBSCO Indexing Services, Index Copernicus
Agricultural Science Digest, volume 43 issue 3 (june 2023) : 306-310

Yield and Nitrogen Use Efficiency of Maize (Zea mays L.) Following the Application of Various Nitrogen Sources under Rainfed Conditions in the Bono Region of Ghana

Amanda Sarfo Boateng1, Daniel Ntiamoah Afreh1, Samuel Kwesi Asomaning1, Charles Adarkwah1, Remember Roger Adjei1,*, Kwadwo Gyasi Santo1, Joseph Sarkodie-Addo2
1Department of Horticulture and Crop Production, School of Agriculture and Technology, University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani, P.O. Box 214, Sunyani, Ghana.
2Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.
Cite article:- Boateng Sarfo Amanda, Afreh Ntiamoah Daniel, Asomaning Kwesi Samuel, Adarkwah Charles, Adjei Roger Remember, Santo Gyasi Kwadwo, Sarkodie-Addo Joseph (2023). Yield and Nitrogen Use Efficiency of Maize (Zea mays L.) Following the Application of Various Nitrogen Sources under Rainfed Conditions in the Bono Region of Ghana . Agricultural Science Digest. 43(3): 306-310. doi: 10.18805/ag.DF-433.
Background: Poor soil fertility management in Ghana has necessitated the need to investigate the appropriate source of nitrogen which enhances nitrogen use efficiency and improves maize productivity under rainfed condition. 

Methods: The experiment consisted of five treatments; control (no fertilizer), NPK 15-15-15 (90 kg N ha-1), urea (90 kg N ha-1), poultry manure (4.2 tons ha-1) and combination of NPK 15-15-15 and poultry manure (½NPK 15-15-15 + ½ poultry manure). Randomized complete block design was the experimental design used for the experiment with three replications. 

Result: The greatest grain yield (5,551 kg ha-1) and biomass yield (14,296 kg ha-1) for the major rainy season were recorded by the combined application of NPK 15-15-15 and Poultry manure treatment, while the highest grain yield (3,507 kg ha-1) and biomass yield (7,976 kg ha-1) was recorded by NPK 15-15-15 treatment during the minor rainy season.
Maize (Zea mays L.) accounts for more than 50% of the total cereal production, making it an essential cereal crop in Africa (Partey et al., 2018). After wheat and rice, maize is the third most valuable crop (Ofori and Kyei-Baffour, 2006). Ragasa et al., (2013) reported that production of maize in Sub-Sahara Africa is mainly for food consumption making it an important crop for food security. In Ghana, maize cultivation is mainly done under rainfed conditions in almost all the agro-ecological zones by smallholder farmers (Ofori and Kyei-Baffour 2006). The average yield of maize is estimated to be 1.9 t ha-1 (FAO, 2015). According to Rockstrom et al., (2010), rainfed maize cultivation contribute to 75% of agriculture in areas where the crop is the main source of food and livelihood for the people.
Ofori and Kyei-Baffour (2006) stated that the difference in maize yield is as a result of environmental conditions under which it is grown, the genetic composition of the hybrid and the degree of pest infestation. However, soil nutrient depletion through poor soil fertility management accounts for poor yield of crops such as maize (Ojobor et al., 2021). In addition, yield of maize is affected by deficient recharge of essential nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorus (FAO, 2007). Nutrient uptake in plants are hindered by improper soil fertility management resulting in lower nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in crops. Therefore, utilization of organic and inorganic fertilizers has been detected to have the ability to better growth and yield of maize (Kalyanasundaram and Augustine, 2021; Almaz et al., 2017) which brings about an improvement in the nutrient level of the soil and high amount of residues that can be incorporated into the soil to enhance its fertility (Campbell et al., 2001). Although the use of nitrogen is increasing worldwide, NUE for maize is about 30% in agricultural production (Cassman et al., 2002). According to Fageria et al., (2015), enhancing NUE is an essential way for not only contributing to increment in crop yield but also help to reduce crop production cost and environmental pollution. Therefore, this research aimed at determining the responsiveness of maize yield and nitrogen use efficiency to different nitrogen sources.
The experiment was conducted during the major and minor rainy seasons of 2019 at the Demonstration Farm of the School of Agriculture and Technology, UENR, Dormaa-Ahenkro Campus from April to December 2019. The trial was laid out in a randomized complete block design with five treatments replicated three times. The treatments were NPK 15-15-15, Urea, Poultry manure, ½ NPK 15-15-15 + ½ Poultry manure (NPKM) and Control (No fertilizer). The soil initial physical and chemical analyses were carried out following standard procedures as described by Motsara and Roy (2008) (Table 1). Samzal Sima (maize variety) was sourced from Savannah Agricultural Institute, Tamale. Sowing of seeds for the major and minor rainy seasons was carried out on 4th April and 4th September 2019 respectively at a spacing of 75cm between rows and 25cm within rows at a rate of one seed per stand. The recommended rates of applications per hectare in Ghana is 90:60:60 kg N:P2O5:K2O (Tetteh et al., 2008).

Table 1: Physical and chemical properties of the soil.

The poultry manure was applied two weeks before planting. The application of the inorganic fertilizers was done using the split method. The first (60 kg N ha-1) and second application (30 kg N ha-1) were done two and six weeks after sowing as side placement respectively. The application rates of the treatments used were NPK 15-15-15 at (90:60:60 kg ha-1 N:P:K), Urea (90 kg ha-1) Poultry manure (4.2 ton ha-1) and combination of ½ NPK 15-15-15 and ½ poultry manure. During the cropping season, pesticide (Deviance) with the active ingredient emamectin benzoate was used to control fall army worm. The nitrogen concentration was determined using the Carbon Nitrogen Sulphur analyzer machine. Phosphorus and potassium were obtained using the wet digestion method (Mehlich, 1984). The procedure involved in developing the P colour was the use of paranitrophenol and ammonia (Bray and Kurtz, 1945) and read using spectrophotometer. The N, P and K uptakes were estimated by multiplying the biomass weight by the corresponding N, P and K total concentration.
Data were collected on the yield and yield components (ear length, ear diameter, kernel number, 1000 grain weight, grain yield), harvest index, biomass, NUE and nutrients uptake. NUE, Partial factor productivity, Agronomic efficiency nitrogen, Recovery efficiency nitrogen and Nitrogen harvest index were obtained using the formulae described by Dobermann (2007). Data collected were subjected toanalysis of variance using the GenStat Statistical package (Version 11.1). Mean separation was carried out using the least significant difference at p=0.05.
Yield and yield components
All the yield and yield components, except 1000-grain weight in the major rainy season and grain yields during the minor rainy season, were not significantly affected (P>0.05) by fertilizer application for both seasons (Table 2). The greater grain yield (5551 kg ha-1) and biomass yield (14296 kg ha-1) were produced by the NPKM treatment during the major season. This confirms the observation that the integrated use of organic and inorganic fertilizers improves soil fertility and also enhance maize yield as likened to the sole application of organic or inorganic fertilizer (Mahmood et al. 2017).

Table 2: Effect of different nitrogen sources on the yield component and biomass.

The yield of all treatments were significantly higher than the yield of the control during the minor season (Table 2). However, there was a reduction of yields in the minor rainy season as compared to the major season. This reduction might be due to variations in climatic conditions such as rainfall. In line with this, reduction of 40% to 60% yields of maize in the dry season compared to yields in the rainy season due to low rainfall was reported by Sogbedji et al., (2006). However, the greatest grain yield (3507 kg ha-1) was recorded by the NPK 15-15-15 treatment whilst the lowest grain (2838 kg ha-1) yield was recorded by the control. This could be attributed to the presence of the inorganic nutrients which is readily available and accessible to plants for growth and development. In a similar study by Arije et al., (2018), the highest yield of maize was recorded by the NPK 15-15-15 treatment and the lowest maize yield was recorded by the control.
Nitrogen use efficiency
Better yield of crops and a reduction in plant nutrient loss can be greatly achieved in crop production when there is an improvement in plant nitrogen use efficiency (Cassman et al., 2002). From the results, Partial Factor Productivity was higher in the NPKM treatment (61.68 kg ha-1) and NPK 15-15-15 treatment (38.96 kg ha-1) for major and minor rainy seasons respectively (Table 3). This resulted from the high performance of the two treatments with regards to grain yields. Except for NPKM which recorded a positive agronomic efficiency nitrogen (AEN) (2.8 kg ha-1), all the other treatments recorded negative mean values for AEN during the major rainy season. This was as a result of the higher performance of the control plot than the fertilized plots with respect to grain yield. The plot treated with urea recorded the highest recovery efficiency nitrogen (1.62 and 1.08 kg ha-1) for the major and minor seasons respectively.

Table 3: Effects of different nitrogen sources on partial factor productivity (PFP), agronomic efficiency nitrogen (AEN), recovery efficiency nitrogen (REN) and Nitrogen harvest index (NHI).

The performance of urea is a reflection of the results for plant nitrogen uptake where it had the highest nitrogen uptake for both seasons. However, it can be said that urea recovered more nitrogen than the other treatments. Barbieri et al., (2008) stated that one beneficial way of improving NUE of maize is the increase its recovery efficiency. Nitrogen harvest index shows the efficiency of plants to utilize the accumulated nitrogen in the grains (Fageria, 2014). For the major season, the control treatment recorded the highest nitrogen harvest index (0.179) but it did not differ significantly from the fertilized treatments. The fertilized treatments did not significantly (P>0.05) affect nitrogen harvest index. This could be due to the partitioning of the total nitrogen to the vegetative parts of the crop. However, significant differences were recorded during the minor season. Similar results were recorded by Belete et al., (2018) on nitrogen fertilizers on different varieties of bread wheat.
Nutrients uptake
The most limiting nutrient to maize yield is nitrogen (Stevens et al., 2005), however, inorganic sources of nitrogen are readily available for plant use but organic sources of nitrogen such as manure has to undergo a mineralization procedure which is controlled by soil microbes, moisture level and quantity of nitrogen and carbon in the manure (Nyiranneza et al., 2009). From the results, it was observed that urea treatment absorbed more plant nitrogen as compared to the other treatment during both seasons. This is a characteristic of urea being an inorganic fertilizer which is readily available for plant use. Gutser et al., (2005) reported that higher plant nitrogen uptake by inorganic fertilizers than organic fertilizers could be as a result of the slow release of plant nutrients by organic fertilizers due to their higher C/N ratio because C/N ratio plays an important role in mineralization and nutrientrelease during decomposition. 
Our results differ with the findings of Songo (2017) who observed higher nitrogen uptake by the combination of manure and mineral fertilizer. Similar results were recorded by Chikowo et al., (2004). Statistically, observing the results for both seasons, nitrogen uptakes were higher in the inorganic treatments than the organic treatment (Table 4). This could be attributed to the fast release of nitrogen to plants by inorganic amendments than organic amendments. The N and P uptake in the major season was higher for all the treatments as compared to the minor season. Moreover, poultry manure recorded the highest phosphorus (327.3 kg ha-1) and potassium (918 kg ha-1) uptake while urea and NPK 15-15-15 recorded the lowest phosphorus (246.5 kg ha-1) and potassium (585.8 kg ha-1) uptake respectively for the major season. This could be attributed to the influence of poultry manure through its decomposition, microbial activities and chemical properties of the soil (Ylivainio et al., 2008). The performance of the poultry manure is in line with the findings of Pinto et al., (2012) who stated that there is a high concentration of phosphorus and potassium in manure obtain from poultry production. Also, poultry manure enhances the chemical and physical properties of the soil, hence increasing the concentration and uptake of plant nutrients. However, this is dependent on the quantity of manure applied (Hou et al., 2012).

Table 4: Effects of fertilizer treatments on plant nitrogen uptake (NUPT), phosphorus uptake (PUPT) and potassium uptake (KUPT).

Significant (P>0.05) differences were not recorded among the treatment means except for 1000 grain weight for the major rainy season and grain yield, nitrogen uptake and nitrogen harvest index for the minor rainy season. Combined application of NPK 15-15-15 and poultry manure produced higher results with respect to grain yield, yield component, partial factor productivity and agronomic efficiency nitrogen, than the other treatments. Application of urea resulted in higher nitrogen uptake and poultry manure recorded the highest phosphorus and potassium uptake by the plant. Further research should be conducted at the experimental site for long term. This will enable the researcher to know the actual effects of the fertilizer treatments on the crop.
We are grateful to the technical support from Shadrack Asomah and the Laboratory Technicians at University of Ghana Soil Science Department for their assistance.

  1. Almaz, M.G., Halim, R.A., Yusoff, M.M. and Wahid, S.A. (2017). Effect of incorporation of crop residue and inorganic fertilizer on yield and grain quality of maize. Indian Journal of Agricultural Research. 51(6): 574-579. DOI: 10.18805/ ijare.a-264.

  2. Arije, D.N, Ewulo, B.S., Akinseye, F.M. and Adejoro, S.A. (2018). Assessment of climatic factors on growth and yield of maize variety as influenced by rates of sunshine organic manure and NPK 20: 10: 10 Fertilizer. International Journal of Agriculture, Environment and Biotechnology. 3(2): 492-499. DOI: 10.22161/ijeab/3.2.23. 

  3. Barbieri, P.A., Echeverría, H.E., Saínz Rozas, H.R. and Andrade, F.H. (2008). Nitrogen use efficiency in maize as affected by nitrogen availability and row spacing. Agronomy Journal. 100(4): 1094-1100. DOI: 10.2134/agronj2006.0057. 

  4. Belete, F., Dechassa, N., Molla, A. and Tana, T. (2018). Effect of nitrogen fertilizer rates on grain yield and nitrogen uptake and use efficiency of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) varieties on the Vertisols of central highlands of Ethiopia. Agriculture and Food Security. 7(1): 78. DOI: 10.1186/ s40066-018-0231-z. 

  5. Bray, R.H. and Kurtz, L.T. (1945). Determination of total, organic and available forms of phosphorus in soils. Soil Science. 59(1): 39-46.

  6. Campbell, C.A., Selles, F., Lafond, G.P., Biederbeck, V. and Zentner, R.P. (2001). Tillage-fertilizer changes: effect on some soil quality attributes under long-term crop rotations in a thin Black Chernozem. Canadian Journal of Soil Science. 81(2): 157-165. DOI: 10.4141/S00-085. 

  7. Cassman, K.G., Dobermann, A. and Walters, D.T. (2002). Agroecosystems, nitrogen-use efficiency and nitrogen management. Journal of Human Environmental Studies. 31(2): 132-140. DOI: 10.1579/0044-7447-31.2.132. 

  8. Chikowo, R., Mapfumo, P., Nyamugafata, P. and Giller, K.E. (2004). Maize productivity and mineral N dynamics following different soil fertility management practices on a depleted sandy soil in Zimbabwe. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 102(2): 119-131. DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2003.08.009. 

  9. Dobermann, A. (2007). Nutrient use efficiency-measurement and management. Fertilizer Best Management Practices: General Principles, Strategy for Their Adoption and Voluntary Initiatives Versus Regulations. International Fertilizer Industry Association, Paris, France. 1-28.

  10. Fageria, N.K. (2014). Nitrogen harvest index and its association with crop yields. Journal of Plant Nutrition. 37(6): 795- 810. DOI: 10.1080/01904167.2014.881855. 

  11. Fageria, N.K., Baligar, V.C., Heinemann, A.B. and Carvalho, M.C.S. (2015). Nitrogen Uptake and Use Efficiency in Rice. In: Nutrient Use Efficiency: From Basics to Advances. Springer, New Delhi. (pp. 285-296). 

  12. FAO, (2015). Food and Agricultural Organization Statistical Division. (Accessed on 31/10/2019). 

  13. FAO/WHO, (2007). Expert Committee on Food Additives. Meeting, and World Health Organization. Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants: Sixty-eighth.

  14. Gutser, R., Ebertseder, T., Weber, A., Schraml, M. and Schmidhalter, U. (2005). Short term and residual availability of nitrogen after long term application of organic fertilizers on arable land. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science. 168(4): 439-446. DOI: 10.1002/jpln.200520510. 

  15. Hou, X., Wang, X., Li, R., Jia, Z., Liang, L. et al. (2012). Effects of different manure application rates on soil properties, nutrient use and crop yield during dryland maize farming. Soil Research. 50(6): 507-514. DOI: 10.1071/SR11339. 

  16. Kalyanasundaram, D. and Augustine, R. (2021). Production and Economics of Hybrid Maize (Zea mays L.) under Integrated Nutrient Management Practices. Agricultural Science Digest. 41(3): 413-419. DOI: 10.18805/ag.D-5242.

  17. Mahmood, F., Khan, I., Ashraf, U., Shahzad, T., Hussain, S., Shahid, M. and Ullah, S. (2017). Effects of organic and inorganic manures on maize and their residual impact on soil physico-chemical properties. Journal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition. 17(1): 22-32. DOI: 10.4067/S0718- 95162017005000002. 

  18. Mehlich, A. (1984). Photometric determination of humic matter in soils, a proposed method, Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 15(12): 1417-1422. DOI: 10.1080/ 00103628409367569.

  19. Motsara, M.R. and Roy, R.N. (2008) Guide to laboratory establishment for plant nutrient analysis. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO Fertilizer and Plant Nutrition Bulletin No 19. ISBN 978-92-5-105981-4. 204pp.

  20. Nyiraneza, J., N’Dayegamiye, A., Chantigny, M.H. and Laverdière, M.R. (2009). Variations in corn yield and nitrogen uptake in relation to soil attributes and nitrogen availability indices, Soil Science Society of America Journal. 73(1): 317-327. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2007.0374. 

  21. Ofori, E. and Kyei-Baffour, N. (2006). Agrometeorology and maize production WMO. CAgM Guide to Agricultural Meteorological Practices (GAMP) Chapter, 13.

  22. Ojobor, S.A., Egbuchua, C.N. and Onoriasakpovwa, R.A. (2021). Assessment of Soil Fertility Status Using Nutrient Index Approach of Ovu Sub-Clan, Delta State, Nigeria. Agricultural Science Digest. 41(2): 282-288. DOI: 10.18805/ag.D-294.

  23. Partey, S.T., Thevathasan, N.V., Zougmoré, R.B. and Preziosi, R.F. (2018). Improving maize production through nitrogen supply from ten rarely-used organic resources in Ghana. Agroforestry Systems. 92(2): 375-387. DOI: 10.1007/ s10457-016-0035-8. 

  24. Pinto, F.A., Santos, F.L., Terra, F.D., Ribeiro, D.O, Sousa, R.R.J. et al. (2012). Atributos de solo sob pastejo rotacionado em função da aplicação de cama de peru. Pesquisa Agropecuaria Tropical. 42: 254-262. DOI: 10.1590/ S1983-40632012000300002. 

  25. Ragasa, C., Dankyi, A., Acheampong, P., Wiredu, A.N., Chapoto, A., Asamoah, M. and Tripp, R. (2013). Patterns of adoption of improved rice technologies in Ghana. International Food Policy Research Institute Working Paper. 35: 6-8.

  26. Rockstrom, J., Karlberg, L., Wani SP, Barron, J., Hatibu, N, et al. (2010). Managing water in rainfed agriculture-The need for a paradigm shift. Agricultural Water Management. 97(4): 543-550. DOI: 10.1016/j.agwat.2009.09.009. 

  27. Sogbedji, J.M., Van Es, H.M., Melkonian, J.J. and Schindelbeck, R.R. (2006). Evaluation of the PNM model for simulating drain flow nitrate-N concentration under manure-fertilized maize, Plant and Soil. 282(1): 343-360. DOI: 10.1007/ s11104-006-0006-3. 

  28. Songo, L.B. (2017). Nitrogen utilization efficiency, growth and yield response of maize (Zea mays L.) to integrated application of mineral nitrogen and cattle manure. (Doctoral dissertation).

  29. Stevens, W.B., Hoeft, R.G. and Mulvaney, R.L. (2005). Fate of nitrogen 15 in a long term nitrogen rate study: II. Nitrogen uptake efficiency, Agronomy Journal. 97(4): 1046-1053. DOI: 10.2134/agronj2003.0313. 

  30. Tetteh, F.M., Issaka, R.N., Ennin, S. and Buri, M.M. (2008) Soil fertility initiative, Fertilizer update and recommendation trials. Soil Research Institute of Ghana. p 33.

  31. Ylivainio, K., Uusitalo, R. and Turtola, E. (2008). Meat bone meal and fox manure as P sources for ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) grown on a limed soil, Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems. 81(3): 267-278. DOI: 10.1007/s10705-007-9162-y. 

Editorial Board

View all (0)