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Optimizing nitrogen management to balance rice yield and environmental risk in the Yangtze River’s middle reaches

Wang, Jing, Fu, Penghao, Wang, Fei, Fahad, Shah, Mohapatra, Pravat K., Chen, Yutiao, Zhang, Congde, Peng, Shaobing, Cui, Kehui, Nie, Lixiao, Huang, Jianliang
Environmental science and pollution research international 2019 v.26 no.5 pp. 4901-4912
absorption, cultivars, fertilizer rates, field experimentation, grain yield, nitrogen, nitrogen fertilizers, risk, soil, Yangtze River
Currently, the urgency of balancing rice production and environmental risk from nitrogen (N) fertilization is gaining scientific and public attention. As such, a field experiment was conducted to investigate the rice yield and the fate of applied-¹⁵N for Yangliangyou 6 (a two-line hybrid cultivar) and Lvdaoq 7 (an inbred cultivar) using 10 combinations of N rates and splitting ratios in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. The results showed that N application primarily affected fertilizer N loss to the environment, followed by plant N absorption, but had little effect on grain yield. Generally, there was no significant increase in grain yield and N accumulation in the aboveground plant when N inputs surpassed 130 or 170 kg ha⁻¹. Fertilizer N residue in soil peaked at approximately 48 kg ha⁻¹ at an N rate of 170 kg ha⁻¹ for both varieties; however, a sharp increase of fertilizer N loss occurred with further incrementally increasing N rates. Although a higher ratio of panicle-N fertilizer together with a lower ratio of tillering-N fertilizer at rates of 130, 170, and 210 kg ha⁻¹ had no grain yield benefit, it promoted aboveground N accumulation and plant N accumulation derived from fertilizer, and it reduced the amount of N residue in soil and N loss to the environment. Overall, reducing tillering-N ratios and increasing panicle-N ratios at an N rate between 130 and 170 kg ha⁻¹ using fertilizer rates of 90–0–40 kg ha⁻¹ and 90–40–40 kg ha⁻¹ N at basal-tillering-panicle initiation stages could reduce the adverse environmental risks of chemical N from rice production without sacrificing rice yield.