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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2017, Vol. 16 Issue (04): 937-946    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(16)61559-9
Soil & Fertilization﹒Irrigation﹒Plant Nutrition﹒ Agro-Ecology & Environment Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
Chemical fertilizers could be completely replaced by manure to maintain high maize yield and soil organic carbon (SOC) when SOC reaches a threshold in the Northeast China Plain
LI Hui1, 2, FENG Wen-ting1, 3, HE Xin-hua4, ZHU Ping5, GAO Hong-jun5, SUN Nan1, XU Ming-gang1

1 National Engineering Laboratory for Improving Quality of Arable Land, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, P.R.China

2 College of Environmental and Resource Sciences, Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou 450002, P.R.China

3 Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, University of Oklahoma, OK 73019-5300, USA

4 College of Resources and Environment, Southwest University, Chongqing 400716, P.R.China

5 Institute of Soil and Fertilizer, Jilin Agricultural Academy of Sciences, Gongzhuling 136100, P.R.China

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Abstract  The combined use of chemical and organic fertilizers is considered a good method to sustain high crop yield and enhance soil organic carbon (SOC), but it is still unclear when and to what extent chemical fertilizers could be replaced by organic fertilizers.  We selected a long-term soil fertility experiment in Gongzhuling, Northeast China Plain to examine the temporal dynamics of crop yield and SOC in response to chemical nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) fertilizers and manure, applied both individually and in combination, over the course of three decades (1980–2010).  We aimed to test 1) which fertilizer application is the best for increasing both maize yield and SOC in this region, and 2) whether chemical fertilizers can be replaced by manure to maintain high maize yield and enhance SOC, and if so, when this replacement should be implemented.  We observed that NPK fertilizers induced a considerable increase in maize yield in the first 12 years after the initiation of the experiment, but manure addition did not.  In the following years, the addition of both NPK fertilizers and manure led to an increase in maize yield.  SOC increased considerably in treatments with manure but remained the same or even declined with NPK treatments.  The increase in maize yield induced by NPK fertilizers alone declined greatly with increasing SOC, whereas the combination of NPK and manure resulted in high maize yield and a remarkable improvement in SOC stock.  Based on these results we suggested that NPK fertilizers could be at least partially replaced by manure to sustain high maize yield after SOC stock has reached 41.96 Mg C ha–1 in the Northeast China Plain and highly recommend the combined application of chemical fertilizers and manure (i.e., 60 Mg ha–1).
Keywords:   long-term fertilization\ manure      maize yield      soil organic carbon      Northeast China  
Received: 01 July 2016   Accepted:

We acknowledge the colleagues for their unremitting efforts on the long-term experiment at the Gongzhuling site and we are also very grateful to Mr. Bruce Mackey from University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign for his help with the statistical analysis.  Financial supports are from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41571298, 41620104006) and the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest, China (201203030, 201303126) and the National Key Technologies R&D Program of China (2012BAD14B04).

Corresponding Authors:  XU Ming-gang, Tel: +86-10-82105636, Fax: +86-10-82106225, E-mail:; SUN Nan, E-mail:   

Cite this article: 

LI Hui, FENG Wen-ting, HE Xin-hua, ZHU Ping, GAO Hong-jun, SUN Nan, XU Ming-gang . 2017. Chemical fertilizers could be completely replaced by manure to maintain high maize yield and soil organic carbon (SOC) when SOC reaches a threshold in the Northeast China Plain. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 16(04): 937-946.

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