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Balanced N and C input recommendations for rain‐fed maize production in northern China based on N balances and grain yields

Wang, Xiaobin, Cai, Dianxiong, Zhao, Quansheng, Xie, Xiaohong, Hoogmoed, Willem B, Oenema, Oene
Journal of the science of food and agriculture 2018 v.98 no.3 pp. 872-883
cattle manure, corn stover, dryland farming, field experimentation, grain yield, nitrogen, nutrient use efficiency, soil, soil fertility, soil organic carbon, China
BACKGROUND: This study aimed to assess longer‐term (1993–2009) effects of combined applications of fertiliser, maize stover, and cattle manure on maize yields, partial nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) balances, and water and N‐use efficiencies, to guide N and C input recommendations for rain‐fed maize production in northern China. RESULTS: The field trial, with three factors at five levels and 12 treatments, was conducted at Shouyang Dryland‐Farming Experimental Station, Shanxi, China. Data analysis revealed higher N balances but lower C balances significantly occurred in a dry year than in a wet year. Positive N balances related to higher N inputs resulted in higher soil available N, even downward to deep layers with increasing N inputs, while positive C balances due to higher C inputs could be benefit to increase soil organic C. Based on partial N balances and grain yields, N and C inputs at ranges of 100 kg N ha⁻¹ and 1.9–2.9 Mg C ha⁻¹ could be recommended for target yields of 6.7–7.2 Mg ha⁻¹ in rain‐fed maize production. CONCLUSION: The study suggests that N balances close to neutral be given priority to improving N‐use efficiency, and more positive C balances also be important for sustaining target yields and soil fertility levels. © 2017 Society of Chemical Industry