Digitization of Crop Nitrogen Modelling: A Review

Luís Silva, Luís Alcino Conceição, Fernando Cebola Lidon, Manuel Patanita, Paola D’Antonio, Costanza Fiorentino

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Applying the correct dose of nitrogen (N) fertilizer to crops is extremely important. The current predictive models of yield and soil–crop dynamics during the crop growing season currently combine information about soil, climate, crops, and agricultural practices to predict the N needs of plants and optimize its application. Recent advances in remote sensing technology have also contributed to digital modelling of crop N requirements. These sensors provide detailed data, allowing for real-time adjustments in order to increase nutrient application accuracy. Combining these with other tools such as geographic information systems, data analysis, and their integration in modelling with experimental approaches in techniques such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence, it is possible to develop digital twins for complex agricultural systems. Creating digital twins from the physical field can simulate the impact of different events and actions. In this article, we review the state-of-the-art of modelling N needs by crops, starting by exploring N dynamics in the soil−plant system; we demonstrate different classical approaches to modelling these dynamics so as to predict the needs and to define the optimal fertilization doses of this nutrient. Therefore, this article reviews the currently available information from Google Scholar and ScienceDirect, using relevant studies on N dynamics in agricultural systems, different modelling approaches used to simulate crop growth and N dynamics, and the application of digital tools and technologies for modelling proposed crops. The cited articles were selected following the exclusion criteria, resulting in a total of 66 articles. Finally, we present digital tools and technologies that increase the accuracy of model estimates and improve the simulation and presentation of estimated results to the manager in order to facilitate decision-making processes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1964
Number of pages19
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2023


  • data science
  • decision support systems
  • Internet of Things
  • process simulation
  • variable rate fertilization


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