Closing the nitrogen use efficiency gap and reducing the environmental impact of wheat-maize cropping on smallholder farms in the Guanzhong Plain, Northwest China
LÜ Feng-lian1, HOU Miao-miao1, ZHANG Hong-tao1, Asif Khan1, Muhammad Ayaz1, QIANGJIU Ciren2, HU Chang-lu1, YANG Xue-yun1, SUN Ben-hua1, ZHANG Shu-lan1
1 College of Natural Resources and Environment, Northwest A&F University/Key Laboratory of Plant Nutrition and the Agro-environment in Northwest China, Ministry of Agriculture, Yangling 712100, P.R.China 2 Agriculture and Husbandry Bureau of Cuona County, Agriculture and Husbandry Bureau of Cuona County, Cuona 856700, P.R.China
A high crop yield with the minimum possible cost to the environment is generally desirable. However, the complicated relationships among crop production, nitrogen (N) use efficiency and environmental impacts must be clearly assessed. We conducted a series of on-farm N application rate experiments to establish the linkage between crop yield and N2O emissions in the Guanzhong Plain in Northwest China. We also examined crop yield, partial factor productivity of applied N (PFPN) and reactive N (Nr) losses through a survey of 1 529 and 1 497 smallholder farms that grow wheat and maize, respectively, in the region. The optimum N rates were 175 and 214 kg ha−1 for winter wheat and summer maize, respectively, thereby achieving the yields of 6 799 and 7 518 kg ha−1, correspondingly, with low N2O emissions based on on-farm N rate experiments. Among the smallholder farms, the average N application rates were 215 and 294 kg ha−1 season−1, thus producing 6 490 and 6 220 kg ha−1 of wheat and maize, respectively. The corresponding PFPN values for the two crops were 36.8 and 21.2 kg N kg−1, and the total N2O emissions were 1.50 and 3.88 kg ha−1, respectively. High N balance, large Nr losses and elevated N2O emissions could be explained by the overdoses of N application and low grain yields under the current farming practice. The crop yields, N application rates, PFPN and total N2O for wheat and maize were 18 and 24% higher, 42 and 37% less, 75 and 116% higher, and 42 and 47% less, correspondingly, in the high-yield and high-PFPN group than in the average smallholder farms. In conclusion, closing the PFPN gap between the current average and the value for the high-yield and high-PFPN group would increase crop production and reduce Nr losses or the total N2O emissions for the investigated cropping system in Northwest China.
About author: Lü Feng-lian, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Cite this article:
LÜ Feng-lian, HOU Miao-miao, ZHANG Hong-tao, Asif Khan, Muhammad Ayaz, QIANGJIU Ciren, HU Chang-lu, YANG Xue-yun, SUN Ben-hua, ZHANG Shu-lan. 2019. Closing the nitrogen use efficiency gap and reducing the environmental impact of wheat-maize cropping on smallholder farms in the Guanzhong Plain, Northwest China. Journal of Integrative Agriculture,