Twenty-six experiments were carried out in England and Wales from 1983 to 1985 to compare urea and ammonium nitrate (AN) as N top-dressing for cereals over the range 100–300 kg/ha N. Most of the experiments were sited on chalky or other soils of pH>7·0 where the greatest differences in effectiveness were expected.
The results showed that while relative N offtake in grain was 2·5% greater from AN, there was no difference in grain yield. Splitting the main N application increased N offtake from urea but not from AN. Overall, urea effectiveness from a single application at GS 31 increased with increasing rainfall on the day of application, but was not increased by subsequent rainfall. On chalk soils, urea effectiveness increased with increasing cumulative rainfall up to the fifth day after application. There was little effect of rainfall on urea effectiveness when the dressing was split. Although grain yield was unaffected by the type of fertilizer N applied, grain N concentration was usually less from urea.
The fertilizer N requirement for optimum yield (Nopt) wassimilar for both fertilizers. Splitting the main N application had no effect on yield or Nopt. We concludethat urea is a satisfactory source of N for cereals.