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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2021, Vol. 20 Issue (2): 606-621    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(20)63407-4
Section 4: Effective management strategies for closing yield and efficiency gaps Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
Improving winter wheat grain yield and water-/nitrogen-use efficiency by optimizing the micro-sprinkling irrigation amount and nitrogen application rate
LI Jin-peng1, 2, ZHANG Zhen1, YAO Chun-sheng1, LIU Yang1, WANG Zhi-min1, FANG Bao-ting3, ZHANG Ying-hua1
1 College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, P.R.China 
2 School of Agronomy, Anhui Agricultural University, Hefei 230036, P.R.China 
3 Wheat Research Institute, Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Zhengzhou 450002, P.R.China
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Abstract  Available irrigation resources are becoming increasingly scarce in the North China Plain (NCP), and nitrogen-use efficiency of crop production is also relatively low. Thus, it is imperative to improve the water-use efficiency (WUE) and nitrogen fertilizer productivity on the NCP. Here, we conducted a two-year field experiment to explore the effects of different irrigation amounts (S60, 60 mm; S90, 90 mm; S120, 120 mm; S150, 150 mm) and nitrogen application rates (150, 195 and 240 kg ha–1; denoted as N1, N2 and N3, respectively) under micro-sprinkling with water and nitrogen combined on the grain yield (GY), yield components, leaf area index (LAI), flag leaf chlorophyll content, dry matter accumulation (DM), WUE, and nitrogen partial factor productivity (NPFP). The results indicated that the GY and NPFP increased significantly with increasing irrigation amount, but there was no significant difference between S120 and S150; WUE significantly increased first but then decreased with increasing irrigation and S120 achieved the highest WUE. The increase in nitrogen was beneficial to improving the GY and WUE in S60 and S90, while the excessive nitrogen application (N3) significantly reduced the GY and WUE in S120 and S150 compared with those in the N2 treatment. The NPFP significantly decreased with increasing nitrogen rate under the same irrigation treatments. The synchronous increase in spike number (SN) and 1 000-grain weight (TWG) was the main reason for the large increase in GY by micro-sprinkling with increasing irrigation, and the differences in SN and TGW between S120 and S150 were small. Under S60 and S90, the TGW increased with increasing nitrogen application, which enhanced the GY, while N2 achieved the highest TWG in S120 and S150. At the filling stage, the LAI increased with increasing irrigation, and greater amounts of irrigation significantly increased the chlorophyll content in the flag leaf, which was instrumental in increasing DM after anthesis and increasing the TGW. Micro-sprinkling with increased amounts of irrigation or excessive nitrogen application decreased the WUE mainly due to the increase in total water consumption (ET) and the small increase or decrease in GY. Moreover, the increase in irrigation increased the total nitrogen accumulation or contents (TNC) of plants at maturity and reduced the residual nitrate-nitrogen in the soil (SNC), which was conducive to the increase in NPFP, but there was no significant difference in TNC between S120 and S150. Under the same irrigation treatments, an increase in nitrogen application significantly increased the residual SNC and decreased the NPFP. Overall, micro-sprinkling with 120 mm of irrigation and a total nitrogen application of 195 kg ha–1 can lead to increases in GY, WUE and NPFP on the NCP.
Keywords:  micro-sprinkling irrigation       winter wheat       grain yield       water and nitrogen utilization  
Received: 13 April 2020   Accepted:
Fund: This study was funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0300105 and 2016YFD0300401), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31871563) and the earmarked fund for China Agriculture Research System (CARS-3).
Corresponding Authors:  ZHANG Ying-hua, E-mail:; FANG Bao-ting, E-mail:   

Cite this article: 

LI Jin-peng, ZHANG Zhen, YAO Chun-sheng, LIU Yang, WANG Zhi-min, FANG Bao-ting, ZHANG Ying-hua. 2021. Improving winter wheat grain yield and water-/nitrogen-use efficiency by optimizing the micro-sprinkling irrigation amount and nitrogen application rate. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 20(2): 606-621.

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