Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Crop Physiology and Crop Production".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 February 2023) | Viewed by 31972

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China
Interests: C and N cycling; soil physical processes; crop modelling
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
College of Land Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
Interests: Agrometeorology; sustainable agriculture; climate change impacts
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Water and nitrogen (N) fertilizer play important roles in improving crop yield and quality in agricultural production. With the increase in agricultural water consumption and N fertilization, water shortages and environmental pollution caused by N losses have become common problems worldwide. Therefore, it is very important to explore methods of promoting crop productivity, while ensuring that measures are in place for minimizing potential negative environmental impacts. This Special Issue invites original research, technology reports, methods, opinion articles, perspectives, invited reviews, and mini reviews on water and N management in the soil–crop system. Topics include—but are not limited to—the following: (1) the effects of different water and N management practices on crop yield, N fate, and water and N use efficiencies; (2) optimized irrigation practices, cropping systems, and agronomic strategies for improving water use efficiency and crop productivity; (2) innovative and novel N fertilizer application technologies, such as 4R technologies (right nutrient source, right rate, right time, and right place) and fertigation techniques for field or facility crops; (3) modelling water and N processes in soil–crop systems and related decision-making processes; (4) water and N management for addressing climate change impacts.

Prof. Dr. Kelin Hu
Dr. Puyu Feng
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • crop yield
  • cropping system
  • irrigation scheduling
  • irrigation method
  • water use efficiency
  • nitrogen management
  • nitrogen losses
  • nitrogen use efficiency
  • modeling
  • decision making
  • climate change

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Published Papers (19 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 4146 KiB  
Article
Laws Governing Nitrogen Loss and Its Numerical Simulation in the Sloping Farmland of the Miyun Reservoir
by Yan Li, Liang Jin, Jiajun Wu, Chuanqi Shi, Shuo Li, Jianzhi Xie, Zhizhuang An, Linna Suo, Jianli Ding, Dan Wei and Lei Wang
Plants 2023, 12(10), 2042; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12102042 - 19 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 794
Abstract
Surface flow (SF) and subsurface flow (SSF) are important hydrological processes occurring on slopes, and are driven by two main factors: rainfall intensity and slope gradient. To explore nitrogen (N) migration and loss from sloping farmland in the Miyun Reservoir, the characteristics of [...] Read more.
Surface flow (SF) and subsurface flow (SSF) are important hydrological processes occurring on slopes, and are driven by two main factors: rainfall intensity and slope gradient. To explore nitrogen (N) migration and loss from sloping farmland in the Miyun Reservoir, the characteristics of total nitrogen (TN) migration and loss via SF and SSF under different rainfall intensities (30, 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80 mm/h) and slope gradients (5°, 10°, and 15°) were studied using indoor stimulated rainfall tests and mathematical models. Nitrogen loss via SF and SSF was found to increase exponentially and linearly with time, respectively, with SSF showing 14–78 times higher loss than SF. Under different rainfall intensities, SSF generally had larger TN loss loading than SF, thereby indicating that SSF was the main route for TN loss. However, the TN loss loading proportion via SF increasing from 14.03% to 35.82% with increasing rainfall intensity is noteworthy. Furthermore, compared with the measurement data, the precision evaluation index Nash-Suttcliffe efficient (NSE) and the determination coefficient (R2) of the effective mixing depth model in the numerical simulation of TN loss through SF in the sloping farmland in the Miyun Reservoir were 0.74 and 0.831, respectively, whereas those of the convection-dispersion equation for SSF were 0.81 and 0.811, respectively, thus indicating good simulation results. Therefore, this paper provides a reference for studying the mechanism of N migration and loss in sloping farmland in the Miyun Reservoir. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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13 pages, 4595 KiB  
Article
The Combined Use of Liquid Fertilizer and Urease/Nitrification Inhibitors on Maize Yield, Nitrogen Loss and Utilization in the Mollisol Region
by Xiaoyu Li, Xiaoyan Zhang, Shaojie Wang, Wenfeng Hou and Li Yan
Plants 2023, 12(7), 1486; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12071486 - 28 Mar 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1537
Abstract
Nitrification inhibitor (NI) and urease inhibitor (UI) with fertilizer have the potential to reduce nitrogen (N) loss as well as improve grain yields. Urea–ammonium nitrate (UAN) solution as liquid fertilizer is superior to conventional solid nitrogen (N) fertilizer in terms of fertilizer efficiency, [...] Read more.
Nitrification inhibitor (NI) and urease inhibitor (UI) with fertilizer have the potential to reduce nitrogen (N) loss as well as improve grain yields. Urea–ammonium nitrate (UAN) solution as liquid fertilizer is superior to conventional solid nitrogen (N) fertilizer in terms of fertilizer efficiency, energy savings, environmental pollution reduction and economic benefits. However, comprehensive assessments of UAN with inhibitors from an environmental and agronomy perspective, including insights into the mechanisms of UAN with inhibitors, are lacking. In a field trial, three single-inhibitor and two double-inhibitor (DI) treatments were set to quantify the grain yield, the N losses and the N recovery efficiency of maize treated with urea supplemented with dicyandiamide (DCD), 3,4-dimethylpyrazole phosphate (DMPP) and N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT). Compared with the UAN treatment, the supply of urease inhibitors reduced NH3 emission by 13.0% but increased N2O emission by 13.0%. The supply of nitrification inhibitors delayed the conversion of ammonium N to nitrate N and improved NH3 emission by 23.5–28.7%, but reduced N2O emission by 31.4% and significantly increased the maize yield by 21.3%. The combined use of NBPT and DCD were not compatible in UAN and cannot achieve the maximum potential for optimizing yields and reducing nitrogen losses. Considering the grain yield, the N use efficiency and the N losses, the combined use of NBPT and DMPP in maize production system significantly improved the grain yield and N use efficiency, as well as reduced N losses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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16 pages, 2774 KiB  
Article
Mapping Topsoil Total Nitrogen Using Random Forest and Modified Regression Kriging in Agricultural Areas of Central China
by Liyuan Zhang, Zhenfu Wu, Xiaomei Sun, Junying Yan, Yueqi Sun, Peijia Liu and Jie Chen
Plants 2023, 12(7), 1464; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12071464 - 27 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1023
Abstract
Accurate understanding of spatial distribution and variability of soil total nitrogen (TN) is critical for the site-specific nitrogen management. Based on 4337 newly obtained soil observations and 33 covariates, this study applied the random forest (RF) algorithm and modified regression kriging (RF combined [...] Read more.
Accurate understanding of spatial distribution and variability of soil total nitrogen (TN) is critical for the site-specific nitrogen management. Based on 4337 newly obtained soil observations and 33 covariates, this study applied the random forest (RF) algorithm and modified regression kriging (RF combined with residual kriging: RFK, hereafter) model to spatially predict and map topsoil TN content in agricultural areas of Henan Province, central China. According to the RFK prediction, topsoil TN content ranged from 0.52 to 1.81 g kg−1, and the farmland with the topsoil TN contents of 1.00–1.23 g kg−1 and 0.80–1.23 g kg−1 accounted for 48.2% and 81.2% of the total farmland area, respectively. Spatially, the topsoil TN in the study area was generally higher in the west and lower in the east. By using the Boruta variable selection algorithm, soil organic matter (SOM) and available potassium contents in topsoil, nitrogen deposition, average annual precipitation, livestock discharges, and topsoil pH were identified as the main factors driving the spatial distribution and variation of soil TN in the study area. The RF and RFK models used showed the expected performance and achieved acceptable TN prediction accuracy. In comparison, RFK performed slightly better than the RF model. The R2 and RMSE achieved by the RFK model were improved by 4.5% and 4.5%, respectively, compared with that by the RF model. However, the results suggest that RFK was inferior to the RF model in quantifying prediction uncertainty and thus may have a slight disadvantage in model reliability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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18 pages, 4879 KiB  
Article
Effects of the Ratio of Substituting Mineral Fertilizers with Manure Nitrogen on Soil Properties and Vegetable Yields in China: A Meta-Analysis
by Shaobo Wang, Rui Lv, Xinhua Yin, Puyu Feng and Kelin Hu
Plants 2023, 12(4), 964; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12040964 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1804
Abstract
Substituting mineral fertilizers (MFs) with manure nitrogen (N) can not only reduce environmental pollution, but also improve soil quality. However, the effects of various manure N substitution ratios (SRs, the ratio of manure N over total N applied) on soil properties and vegetable [...] Read more.
Substituting mineral fertilizers (MFs) with manure nitrogen (N) can not only reduce environmental pollution, but also improve soil quality. However, the effects of various manure N substitution ratios (SRs, the ratio of manure N over total N applied) on soil properties and vegetable yields in China are poorly studied. Here, through a meta-analysis of 667 observations, we assessed the effects of three manure N SRs (low (SR ≤ 35%), medium (35% < SR ≤ 70%), and high (SR > 70%)) on vegetable yields and soil properties (soil organic carbon, SOC; soil total nitrogen, STN; microbial biomass carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), MBC/N; and available phosphorus and potassium, (AP/AK)) in the 0–20 cm soil under different climatic conditions, initial soil properties, and management practices. The results show that the SOC and STN contents increased by 28.5% and 21.9%, respectively, under the medium SRs compared to the MF, which were the highest among the three SRs. Both soil MBC and MBN increased with the increase in the SRs, and the increased ratios in the high SRs reached 203.4% and 119.3%, respectively. In addition, the AP also increased with the increase in the SR, but the AK was not significantly changed with the low and medium SRs compared with the MF. Overall, the medium SR produced the highest vegetable yield among the three SRs with an increase of 18.6%. Additionally, a random forest analysis indicated that the N application rate, planting years, and mean annual precipitation were the most important factors influencing vegetable yield. In conclusion, the SR of 35–70% is more conducive to increasing soil nutrient contents significantly and improves vegetable yields in Chinese vegetable fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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16 pages, 8118 KiB  
Article
Effects of Geographical and Climatic Factors on the Intrinsic Water Use Efficiency of Tropical Plants: Evidence from Leaf 13C
by Xiaoyan Lin, Bingsun Wu, Jingjing Wang, Guoan Wang, Zixun Chen, Yongyi Liang, Jiexi Liu and Hao Wang
Plants 2023, 12(4), 951; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12040951 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1332
Abstract
Understanding the water use efficiency (WUE) and adaptation strategies of plants in high-temperature and rainy areas is essential under global climate change. The leaf carbon content (LCC) and intrinsic WUE of 424 plant samples (from 312 plant species) on Hainan Island were measured [...] Read more.
Understanding the water use efficiency (WUE) and adaptation strategies of plants in high-temperature and rainy areas is essential under global climate change. The leaf carbon content (LCC) and intrinsic WUE of 424 plant samples (from 312 plant species) on Hainan Island were measured to examine their relationship with geographical and climatic factors in herbs, trees, vines and ferns. The LCC ranged from 306.30 to 559.20 mg g−1, with an average of 418.85 mg g−1, and decreased with increasing mean annual temperature (MAT). The range of intrinsic WUE was 8.61 to 123.39 μmol mol−1 with an average value of 60.66 μmol mol−1. The intrinsic WUE decreased with increasing altitude and relative humidity (RH) and wind speed (WS), but increased with increasing latitude, MAT and rainy season temperature (RST), indicating that geographical and climatic factors affect the intrinsic WUE. Stepwise regression suggested that in tropical regions with high temperature and humidity, the change in plant intrinsic WUE was mainly driven by WS. In addition, the main factors affecting the intrinsic WUE of different plant functional types of plants are unique, implying that plants of different plant functional types have distinctive adaptive strategies to environmental change. The present study may provide an insight in water management in tropical rainforest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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24 pages, 21263 KiB  
Article
Nitrogen Supplementation Modulates Morphological, Biochemical, Yield and Quality Attributes of Peppermint
by Zubair Ahmad Parrey, Sajad Hussain Shah, Mudasir Fayaz, Ryan Casini, Hosam O. Elansary and Firoz Mohammad
Plants 2023, 12(4), 809; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12040809 - 10 Feb 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1415
Abstract
Due to the rising demand for essential oil in the world market, peppermint has gained an important status among aromatic and medicinal plants. It becomes imperative to optimize its performance in terms of the growth, physiological functioning and biosynthesis of specialized metabolites. A [...] Read more.
Due to the rising demand for essential oil in the world market, peppermint has gained an important status among aromatic and medicinal plants. It becomes imperative to optimize its performance in terms of the growth, physiological functioning and biosynthesis of specialized metabolites. A factorial randomized pot experiment was performed using three peppermint cultivars (Kukrail, Pranjal and Tushar) and five levels of leaf-applied nitrogen (N), viz. 0 (control), 0.5, 1.0, 1.5 and 2%. The phenological features, biochemical parameters, viability of root cells, stomatal and trichome behavior were assessed at 100 days after transplanting (DAT). The yield-related parameters, viz., herbage yield, essential oil content, menthol content and yield were studied at 120 DAT. The results revealed that increasing the N doses up to 1.5% enhanced all the studied parameters of peppermint, which thereafter (at the dose above 1.5% N) decreased. The variation pattern of the studied parameters was “low-high-low”. Cultivar Kukrail surpassed the two other cultivars Tushar and Pranjal. Among the foliar sprays, the application of 1.5% N increased chlorophyll content and net photosynthetic rate in all three cultivars. Moreover, the essential oil (EO), EO yield and menthol yield of the plant were also increased linearly in all three cultivars as compared with their control plants. Nitrogen application enhanced the trichome size and density of the plants, as revealed through scanning electron microscopy. Furthermore, from the GC-MS studies, the EO content in the studied cultivars increased, particularly in the case of menthol, with the N application. It may be concluded that two sprays of N (1.5%) at appropriate growth stages could be beneficial for improving morphological, physio biochemical and yield attributes of peppermint. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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21 pages, 1177 KiB  
Article
Improvement of Water and Nitrogen Use Efficiencies by Alternative Cropping Systems Based on a Model Approach
by Le Han, Yunrui Li, Yonghao Hou, Hao Liang, Puyu Feng and Kelin Hu
Plants 2023, 12(3), 597; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12030597 - 29 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1208
Abstract
The conventional double cropping system of winter wheat and summer maize (WW-SUM) in the North China Plain (NCP) consumes a large amount of water and chemical fertilizer, threatening the sustainable development of agriculture in this region. This study was based on a three-year [...] Read more.
The conventional double cropping system of winter wheat and summer maize (WW-SUM) in the North China Plain (NCP) consumes a large amount of water and chemical fertilizer, threatening the sustainable development of agriculture in this region. This study was based on a three-year field experiment of different cropping systems (2H1Y—two harvests in one year; 3H2Y—three harvests in two years; and 1H1Y—one harvest in one year). The 2H1Y system had three irrigation–fertilization practices (FP—farmer’s practice; RI—reduced input; and WQ—Wuqiao pattern in Wuqiao County, Hebei Province). A soil–crop system model (WHCNS—soil water heat carbon nitrogen simulator) was used to quantify the effects of different cropping systems on water and nitrogen use efficiencies (WUE and NUE, respectively), and to explore the trade-offs between crop yields and environmental impacts. The results showed that annual yield, water consumption, and the WUE of 2H1Y were higher than those of the 3H2Y and 1H1Y systems. However, local precipitation during the period of crop growth could only meet 65%, 76%, and 91% of total water consumption for the 2H1Y, 3H2Y and 1H1Y systems, respectively. Nearly 65% of irrigation water (groundwater) was used in the period of wheat growth that contributed to almost 40% of the annual yield. Among the three patterns of the 2H1Y system, the order of the WUE was 2H1Y_RI > 2H1Y_WQ > 2H1Y_FP. Compared to 2H1Y_FP, the total fertilizer N application rates in 2H1Y_WQ, 2H1Y_RI, and 3H2Y were reduced by 25%, 65%, and 74%, respectively. The 3H2Y system had the highest NUE of 34.3 kg kg−1, 54% greater than the 2H1Y_FP system (22.2 kg kg−1). Moreover, the 3H2Y system obviously reduced nitrate leaching and gaseous N loss when compared with the other two systems. The order of total N loss of different cropping systems was 2H1Y (261 kg N ha−1) > 1H1Y (78 kg N ha−1) > 3H2Y (70 kg N ha−1). Considering the agronomic and environmental effects as well as economic benefits, the 3H2Y cropping system with optimal irrigation and fertilization would be a promising cropping system in the NCP that could achieve the balance between crop yield and the sustainable use of groundwater and N fertilizer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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15 pages, 3407 KiB  
Article
Effects of the Rainfall Intensity and Slope Gradient on Soil Erosion and Nitrogen Loss on the Sloping Fields of Miyun Reservoir
by Lei Wang, Yan Li, Jiajun Wu, Zhizhuang An, Linna Suo, Jianli Ding, Shuo Li, Dan Wei and Liang Jin
Plants 2023, 12(3), 423; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12030423 - 17 Jan 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3169
Abstract
Environmental loss is primarily caused by soil, water, and nutrient loss, and runoff is associated with nutrient transport and sediment loss. Most existing studies have focused on one influencing factor, namely slope gradient or rainfall intensity, for slope erosion and nutrient loss, but [...] Read more.
Environmental loss is primarily caused by soil, water, and nutrient loss, and runoff is associated with nutrient transport and sediment loss. Most existing studies have focused on one influencing factor, namely slope gradient or rainfall intensity, for slope erosion and nutrient loss, but the joint effects of the two factors have rarely been researched. In this context, the impact of slope gradients (0°, 5°, 10°, and 15°) and rainfall intensities (30, 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80 mm/h) on soil erosion and nutrient loss on the sloping fields of Miyun Reservoir were explored using the indoor artificial rainfall simulation testing system. Based on the results of the study, the variation of runoff coefficient with slope gradient was not noticeable for rainfall intensities <40 mm/h; however, for rainfall intensities >40 mm/h, the increased range of runoff coefficient doubled, and the increase was the fastest under 0° among the four slope gradients. The slope surface runoff depth and runoff rate showed positive correlations with the rainfall intensity (r = 0.875, p < 0.01) and a negative correlation with the slope gradient. In addition, the cumulative sediment yield was positively related to the slope gradient and rainfall intensity (r > 0.464, p < 0.05). Moreover, the slope surface runoff-associated and sediment-associated loss rates of total nitrogen (TN) rose as the rainfall intensity or slope gradient increased, and significant linear positive correlations were found between the runoff-associated TN loss rate (NLr) and the runoff intensity and between the sediment-associated NLr and the erosion intensity. In addition, there were positive linear correlations between slope runoff-associated or sediment-associated TN loss volumes and rainfall intensity, surface runoff, and sediment loss volumes, which were highly remarkable. The slope gradient had a significant positive correlation with the slope surface runoff-associated TN loss at 0.05 (r = 0.452) and a significant positive correlation with the sediment-associated TN loss at the level of 0.01 (r = 0.591). The rainfall intensity exhibited extremely positive correlations with the slope surface runoff-associated and sediment-associated TN loss at 0.01 (r = 0.717 and 0.629) Slope gradients have less effect on nitrogen loss on sloped fields than rainfall intensity, mainly because rainfall intensity affects runoff depth. Based on the findings of this study, Miyun Reservoir may be able to improve nitrogen loss prevention and control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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16 pages, 1602 KiB  
Article
Winter Green Manure Decreases Subsoil Nitrate Accumulation and Increases N Use Efficiencies of Maize Production in North China Plain
by Zonghui Hu, Qiu Zhao, Xinjian Zhang, Xiaoguang Ning, Hao Liang and Weidong Cao
Plants 2023, 12(2), 311; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12020311 - 09 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1637
Abstract
Planting a deep-rooted green manure (GM) (more than 1.0 m depth) greatly improves soil fertility and reduces the loss of nutrients. However, few studies have examined the response of soil nitrogen (N) distribution in the soil profile and subsoil N recovery to the [...] Read more.
Planting a deep-rooted green manure (GM) (more than 1.0 m depth) greatly improves soil fertility and reduces the loss of nutrients. However, few studies have examined the response of soil nitrogen (N) distribution in the soil profile and subsoil N recovery to the long-term planting and incorporation of deep-rooted GM. Based on a 12-year (2009–2021) experiment of spring maize-winter GMs rotation in the North China Plain (NCP), this study investigated the effects of different GMs that were planted over the winter, including ryegrass (RrG, Lolium L.) (>1.0 m), Orychophragmus violaceus (OrV, Orychophragmus violaceus L.) (>0.8 m), and hairy vetch (VvR, Vicia villosa Roth.) (>1.0 m), on the spring maize yield, N distribution in the deep soil profile, N use efficiencies, functional gene abundances involving soil nitrification–denitrification processes and N2O production. Compared with the winter fallow, the maize yield significantly increased by 11.6% after 10 years of green manuring, and water storage in 0–200 cm soil profile significantly increased by 5.0–17.1% at maize seedling stage. The total N content in the soil layer at 0–90 cm increased by 15.8–19.7%, while the nitrate content in the deep soil layer (80–120 cm) decreased by 17.8–39.6%. Planting GM significantly increased the N recovery rate (10.4–32.7%) and fertilizer N partial productivity (4.6–13.3%). Additionally, the topsoil N functional genes (ammonia-oxidizing archaea amoA, ammonia-oxidizing bacterial amoA, nirS, nirK) significantly decreased without increasing N2O production potential. These results indicated that long-term planting of the deep-rooted GM effectively reduce the accumulation of nitrates in the deep soil and improve the crop yield and N use efficiencies, demonstrating a great value in green manuring to improve the fertility of the soil, increase the crop yield, and reduce the risk of N loss in NCP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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14 pages, 2932 KiB  
Article
Enhanced-Efficiency Fertilizers Impact on Nitrogen Use Efficiency and Nitrous Oxide Emissions from an Open-Field Vegetable System in North China
by Daijia Fan, Wentian He, Rong Jiang, Daping Song, Guoyuan Zou, Yanhua Chen, Bing Cao, Jiachen Wang and Xuexia Wang
Plants 2023, 12(1), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12010081 - 23 Dec 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1653
Abstract
Open vegetable fields in China are a major anthropogenic source of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions due to excessive nitrogen (N) fertilization. A 4 yr lettuce experiment was conducted to determine the impacts of controlled-release fertilizers (CRFs) and nitrification inhibitors (NIs) on [...] Read more.
Open vegetable fields in China are a major anthropogenic source of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions due to excessive nitrogen (N) fertilization. A 4 yr lettuce experiment was conducted to determine the impacts of controlled-release fertilizers (CRFs) and nitrification inhibitors (NIs) on lettuce yield, N2O emissions and net economic benefits. Five treatments included (i) no N fertilizer (CK), (ii) conventional urea at 255 kg N ha–1 based on farmers’ practice (FP), (iii) conventional urea at 204 kg N ha–1 (OPT), (iv) CRF at 204 kg N ha–1 (CU) and (v) CRF (204 kg N ha–1) added with NI (CUNI). No significant differences were found in the lettuce yields among different N fertilization treatments. Compared with FP, the cumulative N2O emissions were significantly decreased by 8.1%, 38.0% and 42.6% under OPT, CU and CUNI, respectively. Meanwhile, the net benefits of OPT, CU and CUNI were improved by USD 281, USD 871 and USD 1024 ha–1 compared to CN, respectively. This study recommends the combined application of CRF and NI at a reduced N rate as the optimal N fertilizer management for the sustainable production of vegetables in China with the lowest environmental risks and the greatest economic benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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19 pages, 2777 KiB  
Article
Simulating the Effects of Different Textural Soils and N Management on Maize Yield, N Fates, and Water and N Use Efficiencies in Northeast China
by Fanchao Meng, Kelin Hu, Puyu Feng, Guozhong Feng and Qiang Gao
Plants 2022, 11(23), 3338; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11233338 - 01 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1587
Abstract
Determining the best management practices (BMPs) for farmland under different soil textures can provide technical support for improving maize yield, water- and nitrogen-use efficiencies (WUE and NUE), and reducing environmental N losses. In this study, a two-year (2013–2014) maize cultivation experiment was conducted [...] Read more.
Determining the best management practices (BMPs) for farmland under different soil textures can provide technical support for improving maize yield, water- and nitrogen-use efficiencies (WUE and NUE), and reducing environmental N losses. In this study, a two-year (2013–2014) maize cultivation experiment was conducted on two pieces of farmland with different textural soils (loamy clay and sandy loam) in the Phaeozems zone of Northeast China. Three N fertilizer treatments were designed for each farmland: N168, N240, and N312, with N rates of 168, 240, and 312 kg ha−1, respectively. The WHCNS (soil Water Heat Carbon Nitrogen Simulator) model was calibrated and validated using the observed soil water content, soil nitrate concentration, and crop biological indicators. Then, the effects of soil texture combined with different N rates on maize yield, water consumption, and N fates were simulated. The integrated index considering the agronomic, economic, and environmental impacts was used to determine the BMPs for two textural soils. Results indicated that simulated soil water content and nitrate concentration at different soil depths, leaf area index, dry matter, and grain yield all agreed well with the measured values. Both soil texture and N rates significantly affected maize yield, N fates, WUE, and NUE. The annual average grain yield, WUE, and NUE under three N rates in sandy loam soil were 8257 kg ha−1, 1.9 kg m−3, and 41.2 kg kg−1, respectively, which were lower than those of loam clay, 11440 kg ha−1, 2.7 kg m−3, and 46.7 kg kg−1. The order of annual average yield and WUE under two textural soils was N240 > N312 > N168. The average evapotranspiration of sandy loam (447.3 mm) was higher than that of loamy clay (404.9 mm). The annual average N-leaching amount of different N treatments for sandy loam ranged from 5.1 to 13.2 kg ha−1, which was higher than that of loamy clay soil, with a range of 1.8–5.0 kg ha−1. The gaseous N loss in sandy loam soil accounted for 14.7% of the fertilizer N application rate, while it was 11.1%in loamy clay soil. The order of the NUEs of two textural soils was: N168 > N240 > N312. The recommended N fertilizer rates for sandy loam and loamy clay soils determined by the integrated index were 180 and 200 kg ha−1, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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18 pages, 3225 KiB  
Article
The Nitrogen Dynamics of Newly Developed Lignite-Based Controlled-Release Fertilisers in the Soil-Plant Cycle
by Gunaratnam Abhiram, Miles Grafton, Paramsothy Jeyakumar, Peter Bishop, Clive E. Davies and Murray McCurdy
Plants 2022, 11(23), 3288; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11233288 - 29 Nov 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1012
Abstract
The effect of newly developed controlled-release fertilisers (CRFs); Epox5 and Ver-1 and two levels of Fe2+ applications (478 and 239 kg-FeSO4 ha−1) on controlling nitrogen (N) losses, were tested on ryegrass, in a climate-controlled lysimeter system. The Epox5 and [...] Read more.
The effect of newly developed controlled-release fertilisers (CRFs); Epox5 and Ver-1 and two levels of Fe2+ applications (478 and 239 kg-FeSO4 ha−1) on controlling nitrogen (N) losses, were tested on ryegrass, in a climate-controlled lysimeter system. The Epox5 and Ver-1 effectively decreased the total N losses by 37 and 47%, respectively, compared to urea. Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions by Ver-1 were comparable to urea. However, Epox5 showed significantly higher (p < 0.05) N2O emissions (0.5 kg-N ha−1), compared to other treatments, possibly due to the lock-off nitrogen in Epox5. The application of Fe2+ did not show a significant effect in controlling the N leaching loss and N2O emission. Therefore, a dissimilatory nitrate reduction and chemodenitrification pathways were not pronounced in this study. The total dry matter yield, N accumulation, N use efficiency and soil residual N were not significantly different among any N treatments. Nevertheless, the N accumulation of CRFs was lower in the first month, possibly due to the slow release of urea. The total root biomass was significantly (p < 0.05) lower for Epox5 (35%), compared to urea. The hierarchical clustering of all treatments revealed that Ver-1 outperformed other treatments, followed by Epox5. Further studies are merited to identify the potential of Fe2+ as a controlling agent for N losses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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21 pages, 5310 KiB  
Article
Impact of Drip Irrigation and Nitrogen Fertilization on Soil Microbial Diversity of Spring Maize
by Sarula, Hengshan Yang, Ruifu Zhang, Yuanyuan Li, Fanhao Meng and Jinhui Ma
Plants 2022, 11(23), 3206; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11233206 - 23 Nov 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1905
Abstract
Given the shortage of water resources and excessive application of nitrogen fertilizers in irrigated areas, we explored the effect of water–nitrogen coupling on soil microbial diversity in maize fields irrigated using shallow buried droppers. A field experiment (split-plot design) was used with irrigation [...] Read more.
Given the shortage of water resources and excessive application of nitrogen fertilizers in irrigated areas, we explored the effect of water–nitrogen coupling on soil microbial diversity in maize fields irrigated using shallow buried droppers. A field experiment (split-plot design) was used with irrigation amounts set at 40%, 50%, and 60% of the conventional amount; furthermore, 13 water and nitrogen coupling treatments were designed. The secondary area was the nitrogen application level, corresponding to 50%, 70%, and the original conventional application amounts. The results showed that the effect of irrigation amount on bacterial community composition was greater than that of nitrogen, whereas the effect of nitrogen on fungi was greater than that on bacteria. No significant difference was detected in the α diversity index or species richness of bacteria and fungi. Available phosphorus and organic carbon contents significantly correlated with the community structure of soil bacteria (p < 0.05). The relative abundances of bacteria and fungi were stable with the decrease of nitrogen application rate at the irrigation rate of 2000 m3 ha−1. With the decrease of irrigation amount, the relative abundance of bacteria and fungi was stable under the treatment of 210 kg ha−1 nitrogen fertilizer. Moreover, the relative abundance of nitrogen-fixing bacteria related to the nitrogen cycle was increased by irrigation of 2000 m3 ha−1 and nitrogen application of 210 kg ha−1. Moderate reduction of subsequent N supply should be as a prior soil management option in a high N input agroecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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19 pages, 5904 KiB  
Article
Seedling-Stage Deficit Irrigation with Nitrogen Application in Three-Year Field Study Provides Guidance for Improving Maize Yield, Water and Nitrogen Use Efficiencies
by Yuxi Li, Jian Chen, Longbing Tian, Zhaoyin Shen, Daniel Buchvaldt Amby, Fulai Liu, Qiang Gao and Yin Wang
Plants 2022, 11(21), 3007; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11213007 - 07 Nov 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1466
Abstract
Deficit irrigation (DI) was acknowledged as an effective technique to improve water use efficiency (WUE) without significant yield reduction. In this study, a 3-year field experiment was conducted in Northeast China during 2017–2019 to investigate the combined effects of 3-week DI from 3-leaf [...] Read more.
Deficit irrigation (DI) was acknowledged as an effective technique to improve water use efficiency (WUE) without significant yield reduction. In this study, a 3-year field experiment was conducted in Northeast China during 2017–2019 to investigate the combined effects of 3-week DI from 3-leaf stage and N fertilization on maize seedling growth and determine the resulting impacts on silking growth and yield formation, N use efficiency (NUE) and WUE. Results showed that seedling-stage DI decreased leaf area and photosynthesis, thus significantly limited shoot and root dry biomass for maize seedling, compared to well-watered (WW) plants. In 2017 and 2019, seedling-stage DI positively improved seedling growth with higher root: shoot ratio and enhanced drought tolerance, under higher initial soil water contents (SWC) with sufficient precipitation before DI. The DI-primed plants showed similar or better performances on reproductive growth, grain yield, WUE and NUE compared to WW plants, even experiencing heavy rainfall or drought stresses around the silking stage. However, the contrasting results were observed in 2018 with negative DI effects on seedling and silking growth and final yield, probably due to less rainfall and lower SWC before DI. In all 3 years, N fertilization had significant compensatory effects on limited seedling growth under DI, and its effect was much less in 2018 than other years due to adverse early climate. The principal component and correlation analysis revealed maize silking growth, grain yield, NUE and WUE were strongly related to the seedling growth as affected by water and N managements under various climatic conditions. In conclusion, a short-term and moderate DI regime—adopted at the seedling stage under higher initial SWC and coupled with an appropriate N fertilization—is beneficial to control redundant vegetative growth while optimizing root development, therefore effectively improving drought tolerance for maize plants and achieving higher grain yield, WUE and NUE. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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16 pages, 3881 KiB  
Article
Effects of Different Hedgerow Patterns on the Soil Physicochemical Properties, Erodibility, and Fractal Characteristics of Slope Farmland in the Miyun Reservoir Area
by Lei Wang, Jiajun Wu, Jianzhi Xie, Dan Wei, Yan Li, Junqiang Wang, Ting Xu, Zhixin Yang and Liang Jin
Plants 2022, 11(19), 2537; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11192537 - 27 Sep 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1291
Abstract
Soil erosion of sloping farmland in the Miyun reservoir area in Beijing has become a serious issue and has threatened the ecological environment and safety of the reservoir area. We used the Taishizhuang Village Non-point Source Pollution Prevention & Control Base in the [...] Read more.
Soil erosion of sloping farmland in the Miyun reservoir area in Beijing has become a serious issue and has threatened the ecological environment and safety of the reservoir area. We used the Taishizhuang Village Non-point Source Pollution Prevention & Control Base in the Miyun reservoir as a study area and performed a comparative analysis of the physicochemical properties of soil of the upper, middle, and lower slopes of the Scutellaria baicalensis + Buchloe dactyloides plot (Treatment 1, T1), Morus alba + Buchloe dactyloides plot (Treatment 2, T2), Salvia miltiorrhiza + Cynodon dactylon plot (Treatment 3, T3), Platycodon grandiflorus + Cynodon dactylon plot (T4), and a barren land control plot (Control check, CK), to explore how different hedgerow patterns affect the soil’s physicochemical properties, anti-erodibility, and fractal characteristics. We found the following: (1) The primary soil mechanical composition included sand particles in the upper slopes, whereas it was soil fine particles in the middle and lower slopes. (2) The fractal dimension of the slope soil showed a significant negative correlation with sand particles (R2 = 0.9791) while being positively correlated with silt particles (R2 = 0.9635) and clay particles (R2 = 0.9408). (3) All hedgerow patterns increased soil nutrients, with the Morus alba + Buchloe dactyloides hedgerow plot increasing the soil total nitrogen (STN), soil total phosphorus (STP), and soil organic matter (SOM) content by 213.89–282.69%, 55.56–58.15%, and 29.77–56.04%, respectively. (4) The Morus alba + Buchloe dactyloides hedgerow plot significantly decreased the soil erodibility factor K value, improved soil anti-erodibility, and reduced soil erosion. (5) The K value of the soil erodibility was significantly negatively correlated with clay particles, soil fractal dimension, and STP (p < 0.01); positively correlated with sand particles; and negatively correlated with silt particles, STN, and SOM. Therefore, the Morus alba + Buchloe dactyloides hedgerow planting contributes to clay particle conservation, soil nutrient content improvement, soil structure optimization, and soil anti-erodibility enhancement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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18 pages, 4912 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Nitrogen Fertilizer Fates and Related Environmental Risks for Main Cereals in China’s Croplands from 2004 to 2018
by Daping Song, Rong Jiang, Daijia Fan, Guoyuan Zou, Lianfeng Du, Dan Wei, Xuan Guo and Wentian He
Plants 2022, 11(19), 2507; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11192507 - 26 Sep 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1447
Abstract
Assessment of the nitrogen (N) inputs and outputs in croplands would help effectively manage the distribution of N to improve crop growth and environmental sustainability. To better understand the N flow of the main cereal systems in China, soil N balance, N use [...] Read more.
Assessment of the nitrogen (N) inputs and outputs in croplands would help effectively manage the distribution of N to improve crop growth and environmental sustainability. To better understand the N flow of the main cereal systems in China, soil N balance, N use efficiency (NUE), N losses and the potential environmental impacts of maize, wheat and rice cropping systems were estimated at the regional and national scales from 2004 to 2018. Nationally, the soil N balance (N inputs—N outputs) of maize, wheat, single rice and double rice decreased by 28.8%,13.3%, 30.8% and 34.1% from 2004–2008 to 2014–2018, equivalent to an average of 33.3 to 23.7 kg N ha−1, 82.4 to 71.4 kg N ha−1, 93.6 to 64.8 kg N ha−1 and 51.8 to 34.1 kg N ha−1, respectively. The highest soil N balance were observed in Southeast (SE) region for maize and double rice, North central (NC) region for wheat single rice and Northwest region for wheat, whereas Northeast (NE) region had the lowest N balance for all crops. The NUE increased from 49.8%, 41.2%, 49.7% and 53.7% in 2004–2008 to 54.8%, 45.9%, 55.5% and 56.5% in 2014–2018 for maize, wheat, single rice and double rice, respectively. The fertilizer N losses (i.e., N2O emission, NO emission, N2 emission, NH3 volatilization, N leaching and N runoff) were estimated as 43.7%, 38.3%, 40.2% and 36.6% of the total N inputs for maize, wheat, single rice and double rice, respectively in 2014–2018. Additionally, the highest global warming potential and acidification effects were found in NE and NC regions for maize, NC region for wheat, the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River for single rice and SE region for double rice, respectively. The highest risk of water contamination by N leaching and surface runoff was observed in NC region for all crops mainly due to high N fertilizer input. Furthermore, the dynamics of N balance for all crops were closely tied with grain yields, except for single rice, the N balance of which was mainly correlated with N fertilizer input. Our results could help researchers and policy makers effectively establish optimized fertilization strategies and adjust the regional allocation of grain cropping areas in response to environmental risks and climate change caused by food crop cultivation in China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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15 pages, 694 KiB  
Article
Nitrate Leaching Mitigation Options in Two Dairy Pastoral Soils and Climatic Conditions in New Zealand
by Dumsane Themba Matse, Paramsothy Jeyakumar, Peter Bishop and Christopher W. N. Anderson
Plants 2022, 11(18), 2430; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11182430 - 17 Sep 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1536
Abstract
This lysimeter study investigated the effect of late-autumn application of dicyandiamide (DCD), co-poly acrylic-maleic acid (PA-MA), calcium lignosulphonate (LS), a split-application of calcium lignosulphonate (2LS), and a combination of gibberellic acid (GA) and LS (GA + LS) to reduce N leaching losses during [...] Read more.
This lysimeter study investigated the effect of late-autumn application of dicyandiamide (DCD), co-poly acrylic-maleic acid (PA-MA), calcium lignosulphonate (LS), a split-application of calcium lignosulphonate (2LS), and a combination of gibberellic acid (GA) and LS (GA + LS) to reduce N leaching losses during May 2020 to December 2020 in lysimeter field sites in Manawatu (Orthic Pumice soil) and Canterbury (Pallic Orthic Brown soil), New Zealand. In a second application, urine-only, GA only and GA + LS treatments were applied during July 2020 in mid-winter on both sites. Results showed that late-autumn application of DCD, 2LS and GA + LS reduced mineral N leaching by 8%, 16%, and 35% in the Manawatu site and by 34%, 11%, and 35% in the Canterbury site, respectively when compared to urine-only. There was no significant increase in cumulative herbage N uptake and yield between urine-treated lysimeters in both sites. Mid-winter application of GA and GA + LS reduced mineral N leaching by 23% and 20%, respectively in the Manawatu site relative to urine-only treated lysimeters, but no significant reduction was observed in the Canterbury site. Our results demonstrated the potential application of these treatments in different soils under different climate and management conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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13 pages, 3368 KiB  
Article
Optimal Fertilizer Application Reduced Nitrogen Leaching and Maintained High Yield in Wheat-Maize Cropping System in North China
by Xiaosheng Luo, Changlin Kou and Qian Wang
Plants 2022, 11(15), 1963; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11151963 - 28 Jul 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1933
Abstract
Agricultural nitrogen (N) non-point source pollution in the North China Plain is a major factor that affects water quality and human health. The characteristics of N leaching under different N application conditions should be further quantified accurately in winter wheat (Triticum aestivum [...] Read more.
Agricultural nitrogen (N) non-point source pollution in the North China Plain is a major factor that affects water quality and human health. The characteristics of N leaching under different N application conditions should be further quantified accurately in winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and summer maize (Zea mays L.) rotation farmland in North China, and a basis for reducing the risk and evaluation of N leaching in this area. A three-year field experiment was conducted using an in situ leakage pond method at a typical farmland in Henan in 2017–2020. Crop yield, soil nitrate N residues, and N utilization were also studied during the study period. Five N fertilizer rates were established with 0 (CK), 285 (LN), 465 (MN), 510 (MNO), and 645 (HN) kg N ha−1 for one rotation cycle. MNO was applied with chemical and organic fertilizers. The concentration of nitrate N in the soil leaching solution of CK, LN, MN, MNO, and HN was 0.81-, 1.49-, 3.65-, 5.55-, and 7.57-fold that of the World Health Organization’s standard for underground drinking water. The exponential relationship between the N application rate and leaching was obtained when the annual N input exceeded 300 kg ha−1, and the N leaching rate increased greatly. The leaching rate of nitrate N in the total N was 50.6–82.4% under different treatments of N application. The combination of chemical and organic fertilizers treatment (MNO) reduced the amount of N that was leached in dry years. The nitrate leaching amount of summer maize accounts for 83.0%, 49.4%, and 72.0% of the total nitrate leaching amount of the whole rotation cycles in 2017–2020. LN and MN were recommended as the optimized N application here (285–465 kg N ha−1) with the two-season rotation grain yield of 17.2 ton ha−1 (16.5–17.9 ton ha−1) and nitrate N leaching of 21.6 kg ha−1 (12.6–30.5 kg ha−1). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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13 pages, 1998 KiB  
Article
Characteristics of NH4+ and NO3 Fluxes in Taxodium Roots under Different Nitrogen Treatments
by Shuting Wu, Jianfeng Hua, Yan Lu, Rui Zhang and Yunlong Yin
Plants 2022, 11(7), 894; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11070894 - 28 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1740
Abstract
To understand the characteristics of net NH4+ and NO3 fluxes and their relation with net H+ fluxes in Taxodium, net fluxes of NH4+, NO3 and H+ were detected by a scanning [...] Read more.
To understand the characteristics of net NH4+ and NO3 fluxes and their relation with net H+ fluxes in Taxodium, net fluxes of NH4+, NO3 and H+ were detected by a scanning ion-selective electrode technique under different forms of fixed nitrogen (N) and experimental conditions. The results showed that higher net NH4+ and NO3 fluxes occurred at 2.1–3.0 mm from the root apex in T. ascendens and T. distichum. Compared to NH4+ or NO3 alone, more stable net NH4+ and NO3 fluxes were found under NH4NO3 supply conditions, of which net NH4+ flux was promoted at least 1.71 times by NO3, whereas net NO3 flux was reduced more than 81.66% by NH4+ in all plants, which indicated that NH4+ is preferred by Taxodium plants. T. ascendens and T. mucronatum had the largest net NH4+ and total N influxes when NH4+:NO3 was 3:1. 15N Atom% and activities of N assimilation enzymes were improved by single N fertilization in the roots of T. distichum. In most cases, net H+ fluxes were tightly correlated with net NH4+ and NO3 fluxes. Thus, both N forms and proportions could affect N uptake of Taxodium. These findings could provide useful guidance for N management for better productivity of Taxodium plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Nitrogen Management in Soil-Crop System)
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