Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 49, Issue 8, pp 977–986 | Cite as

Fate of 15 N-labeled fertilizer in soils under dryland agriculture after 19 years of different fertilizations

  • Bin Liang
  • Xueyun Yang
  • Daniel V. Murphy
  • Xinhua He
  • Jianbin Zhou
Original Paper


This study addressed if long-term combined application of organic manure and inorganic fertilizers could improve the synchrony between nitrogen (N) supply and crop demand. 15 N-labeled urea was applied to micro-plots within three different fertilized treatments (no fertilizer, No-F soil; inorganic NPK fertilizers, NPK soil; and manure plus inorganic NPK fertilizers, MNPK soil) of a long-term field trial (1990–2009) in a dryland wheat field in the south Loess Plateau, China. After one season of wheat harvest, 15 N use efficiency was 20, 58, and 65 % in the No-F, NPK, and MNPK soil, respectively. During the early wheat growth stage, microbial immobilization of applied 15 N was significantly (P < 0.05) highest in the MNPK soil (15.3 %), higher in the NPK soil (12.6 %), and lowest in the No-F soil (7.4 %). Of the 15 N immobilized by the soil microbial biomass, 69 % (NPK soil) to 83 % (MNPK soil) was released between the stem elongation and flowering of wheat. Compared with the NPK soil, the MNPK soil had significantly (P < 0.05) higher grain yield. Our findings highlight that long-term application of organic manure with inorganic fertilizers cannot only improve the synchrony of N supply for crop demand but also increase N use efficiency and grain yield.


Long-term fertilizer trial N immobilization Wheat yield N use efficiency 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (40773057) and the National Technology R&D Pillar Program in the 12th Five Year Plan of China (2012BAD15B04).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bin Liang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Xueyun Yang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel V. Murphy
    • 4
  • Xinhua He
    • 5
  • Jianbin Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Resources and Environmental SciencesNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Plant Nutrition and the Agri-environment in Northwest ChinaMinistry of AgricultureYanglingChina
  3. 3.College of Resource and EnvironmentQingdao Agriculture UniversityQingdaoChina
  4. 4.Soil Biology Group, School of Earth and Environment, UWA Institute of AgricultureUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  5. 5.School of Life SciencesYunnan Normal UniversityKunmingChina

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