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Suitability of the DNDC model to simulate yield production and nitrogen uptake for maize and soybean intercropping in the North China Plain

ZHANG, Yi-tao, LIU, Jian, WANG, Hong-yuan, LEI, Qiu-liang, LIU, Hong-bin, ZHAI, Li-mei, REN, Tian-zhi, ZHANG, Ji-zong
Journal of integrative agriculture 2018 v.17 no.12 pp. 2790-2801
Glycine max, Triticum aestivum, Zea mays, corn, denitrification, double cropping, fertilizers, field experimentation, grain yield, intercropping, land use, nitrogen, planting, simulation models, soybeans, summer, wheat, winter, China
Intercropping is an important agronomic practice. However, assessment of intercropping systems using field experiments is often limited by time and cost. In this study, the suitability of using the DeNitrification DeComposition (DNDC) model to simulate intercropping of maize (Zea mays L.) and soybean (Glycine max L.) and its aftereffect on the succeeding wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) crop was tested in the North China Plain. First, the model was calibrated and corroborated to simulate crop yield and nitrogen (N) uptake based on a field experiment with a typical double cropping system. With a wheat crop in winter, the experiment included five treatments in summer: maize monoculture, soybean monoculture, intercropping of maize and soybean with no N topdressing to maize (N0), intercropping of maize and soybean with 75 kg N ha−1 topdressing to maize (N75), and intercropping of maize and soybean with 180 kg N ha−1 topdressing to maize (N180). All treatments had 45 kg N ha−1 as basal fertilizer. After calibration and corroboration, DNDC was used to simulate long-term (1955 to 2012) treatment effects on yield. Results showed that DNDC could stringently capture the yield and N uptake of the intercropping system under all N management scenarios, though it tended to underestimate wheat yield and N uptake under N0 and N75. Long-term simulation results showed that N75 led to the highest maize and soybean yields per unit planting area among all treatments, increasing maize yield by 59% and soybean yield by 24%, resulting in a land utilization rate 42% higher than monoculture. The results suggest a high potential to promote soybean production by intercropping soybean with maize in the North China Plain, which will help to meet the large national demand for soybean.