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Effects of fertilization on nutrient budget and nitrogen use efficiency of farmland soil under different precipitations in Northeastern China

Ma, Qiang, Yu, Wan-Tai, Shen, Shan-Min, Zhou, Hua, Jiang, Zi-Shao, Xu, Yong-Gang
Nutrient cycling in agroecosystems 2010 v.88 no.3 pp. 315-327
soil nutrient balance, precipitation, agricultural soils, Zea mays, corn, grain yield, mineral fertilizers, NPK fertilizers, recycling, animal manures, organic fertilizers, fertilizer rates, phosphorus, nutrient uptake, drought, exchangeable potassium, nutrient management, field experimentation, long term experiments, nutrient-nutrient interactions, soil fertility, soil amendments, nitrogen, soil nutrients, flooded conditions, nutrient use efficiency, meteorological data, China
Based on a consecutive 16-year field trial and meteorological data, the effects of fertilization on the nutrient budget and nitrogen use efficiency in farmland soil under different precipitation years were studied. With no fertilization treatment, the grain yield of maize was 3,520 kg ha⁻¹ (mean yield over 13 years). But the maximum yield increased to 7,470 kg ha⁻¹ when treated with mineral N, P and K fertilizers and recycled manure. The nutrient uptake also increased by twofold to threefold in NPKM treated field compared with that in the control treatment. The highest yields were obtained in years with normal precipitation, despite the different fertilization schemes. The lowest yields were obtained in drought or waterlogging years, which were 44.7-58.5% of the yields in years with normal precipitation. It also appeared that the deficits of N, P and K were greater in the years with proper precipitation than those in arid or flood years, because more production was removed from the field. Soil total N decreased significantly when treated with mineral fertilizer or recycled manure alone. The maximum deficit of soil total N was observed in control treatment (557 kg ha⁻¹) from 1990 to 2005. The N treatment resulted in a significant negative balance of P, due to the high yield of the crop in response to applied N. The application of NP or N to soils resulted in a greater negative K balance than that of the control. The greatest negative balance of total P and available P were obtained under the control and N treatment, and the highest deficit of soil total K and exchangeable K were obtained under NP treatment. We found that the rate of 150 kg N ha⁻¹ year⁻¹ was inadequate for maintaining soil N balance, and amendment of soil with organic source could not stop the loss of soil P and K. The applying rates of 150 kg N ha⁻¹ year⁻¹, 25 kg P ha⁻¹ year⁻¹, and 60 kg K ha⁻¹ year⁻¹ combined with 2-3 t ha⁻¹ organic manure were recommended to maintain soil fertility level. The nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) was greatly improved in the years with proper precipitation and balanced fertilization. Higher NUE and grain yields were achieved under NPK and NPKM treatments in years with normal precipitation. The results clearly demonstrated that both organic and mineral fertilizers were needed to increase crop production, improve NUE and maintain soil fertility level.