How can we estimate optimum fertilizer rates with accuracy and precision?

Fernando E. Miguez, Hanna Poffenbarger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


For decades, agronomists have invested time and resources to identify the optimum nitrogen (N) rates for cereal crops. The most common method for estimating the agronomic optimum N rate (AONR) is to design a field experiment with several N fertilizer rates and fit a regression model to the yield observations. Here, we concentrate on its accuracy and precision given choices of experimental design and statistical analysis. Our first finding is that the choice of functional form has a large agronomic effect on the estimate of the AONR, and this depends on the data-generating model. Our second finding is that improving the precision and accuracy of AONR estimates will demand an increase in the number of N rates and replications. Finally, we propose that using either the best-fitting model or a weighted model is preferable to always choosing either the linear-plateau (negative bias) or quadratic-plateau (positive bias) models.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20075
JournalAgricultural and Environmental Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Agricultural & Environmental Letters published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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