, Volume 366, Issue 1-2, pp 551-561
Date: 16 Sep 2012

Crop residue incorporation negates the positive effect of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration on wheat productivity and fertilizer nitrogen recovery

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Background and purpose

Rapid increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) may increase crop residue production and carbon: nitrogen (C:N) ratio. Whether the incorporation of residues produced under elevated [CO2] will limit soil N availability and fertilizer N recovery in the plant is unknown. This study investigated the interaction between crop residue incorporation and elevated [CO2] on the growth, grain yield and the recovery of 15N-labeled fertilizer by wheat (Triticum aestivum L. cv. Yitpi) under controlled environmental conditions.


Residue for ambient and elevated [CO2] treatments, obtained from wheat grown previously under ambient and elevated [CO2], respectively, was incorporated into two soils (from a cereal-legume rotation and a cereal-fallow rotation) 1 month before the sowing of wheat. At the early vegetative stage 15N-labeled granular urea (10.22 atom%) was applied at 50 kg N ha−1 and the wheat grown to maturity.


When residue was not incorporated into the soil, elevated [CO2] increased wheat shoot (16 %) and root biomass (41 %), grain yield (19 %), total N uptake (4 %) and grain N removal (8 %). However, the positive [CO2] fertilization effect on these parameters was absent in the soil amended with residue. In the absence of residue, elevated [CO2] increased fertilizer N recovery in the plant (7 %), but when residue was incorporated elevated [CO2] decreased fertilizer N recovery.


A higher fertilizer application rate will be required under future elevated [CO2] atmospheres to replenish the extra N removed in grains from cropping systems if no residue is incorporated, or to facilitate the [CO2] fertilization effect on grain yield by overcoming N immobilization resulting from residue amendment.

Responsible Editor: Eric Paterson.