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Front Plant Sci. 2017 Sep 1;8:1482. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.01482. eCollection 2017.

Preliminary Studies to Characterize the Temporal Variation of Micronutrient Composition of the Above Ground Organs of Maize and Correlated Uptake Rates.

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Crop Science Department, Escola Superior de Agricultura "Luiz de Queiroz" (ESALQ), Universidade de São PauloPiracicaba, Brazil.
Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture, University of São PauloPiracicaba, Brazil.


The improvement of agronomic practices and the use of high technology in field crops contributes for significant increases in maize productivity, and may have altered the dynamics of nutrient uptake and partition by the plant. Official recommendations for fertilizer applications to the maize crop in Brazil and in many countries are based on critical soil nutrient contents and are relatively outdated. Since the factors that interact in an agricultural production system are dynamic, mathematical modeling of the growth process turns out to be an appropriate tool for these studies. Agricultural modeling can expand our knowledge about the interactions prevailing in the soil-plant-atmosphere system. The objective of this study is to propose a methodology for characterizing the micronutrient composition of different organs and their extraction, and export during maize crop development, based on modeling nutrient uptake, crop potential evapotranspiration and micronutrient partitioning in the plant, considering the production environment. This preliminary characterization study (experimental growth analysis) considers the temporal variation of the micronutrient uptake rate in the aboveground organs, which defines crop needs and the critical nutrient content of the soil solution. The methodology allowed verifying that, initially, the highest fraction of dry matter, among aboveground organs, was assigned to the leaves. After the R1 growth stage, the largest part of dry matter was partitioned to the stalk, which in this growth stage is the main storage organ of the maize plant. During the reproductive phase, the highest fraction of dry matter was conferred to the reproductive organs, due to the high demand for carbohydrates for grain filling. The micronutrient (B, Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn) content follows a power model, with higher values for the initial growth stages of development and leveling off to minimum values at the R6 growth stage. The proposed model allows to verify that fertilizer recommendations should be related to the temporal variability of micronutrient absorption rates, in contrast to the classic recommendation based on the critical soil micronutrient content. The maximum micronutrient absorption rates occur between the reproductive R4 and R5 growth stages. These evaluations allowed to predict the maximum micronutrient requirements, considered equal to respective stalk sap concentrations.


Zea mays; agricultural modeling; micronutrient content; micronutrient partition; productivity

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