Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 79, Issue 3, pp 255–265 | Cite as

Nitrogen input, 15N balance and mineral N dynamics in a rice–wheat rotation in southwest China

  • Mingsheng Fan
  • Shihua Lu
  • Rongfeng Jiang
  • Xuejun Liu
  • Xiangzhong Zeng
  • Keith W. T. Goulding
  • Fusuo ZhangEmail author
Research Article


A field experiment and farm survey were conducted to test nitrogen (N) inputs, 15N-labelled fertilizer balance and mineral N dynamics of a rice–wheat rotation in southwest China. Total N input in one rice–wheat cycle averaged about 448 kg N ha−1, of which inorganic fertilizer accounted for 63% of the total. The effects of good N management strategies on N cycling were clear: an optimized N treatment with a 27% reduction in total N fertilizer input over the rotation decreased apparent N loss by 52% and increased production (sum of grain yield of rice and wheat) compared with farmers’ traditional practice. In the 15N-labelled fertilizer experiment, an optimized N treatment led to significantly lower 15N losses than farmers’ traditional practice; N loss mainly occurred in the rice growing season, which accounted for 82% and 67% of the total loss from the rotation in farmers’ fields and the optimized N treatment, respectively. After the wheat harvest, accumulated soil mineral N ranged from 42 to 115 kg ha−1 in farmers’ fields, of which the extractable soil NO3 –N accounted for 63%. However, flooding soil for rice production significantly reduced accumulated mineral N after the wheat harvest: in the 15N experiment, farmers’ practice led to considerable accumulation of mineral N after the wheat harvest (125 kg ha−1), of which 69% was subsequently lost after 13 days of flooding. Results from this study indicate the importance of N management in the wheat-growing season, which affects N dynamics and N losses significantly in the following rice season. Integrated N management should be adopted for rice–wheat rotations in order to achieve a better N recovery efficiency and lower N loss.


Alternate soil wetting and drying Integrated nutrient management 15N labelled Urea Nitrogen budget Nitrogen cycling Rice–wheat cropping system 







Farmers’ traditional nitrogen practice


Optimized nitrogen treatment


Biological N2 fixation


Mineral nitrogen



We thank the 948 Major International Cooperation Programme of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (Grant No. 2003-Z53), the Program for Changjiang Scholars and the Innovative Research Team in University (IRT0511) and the 863 State High-tech Research Development Project (Grant No. 2002AA6Z3264) for generous financial support. Rothamsted Research receives grant-in-aid from the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.


  1. Aulakh MS, Kuldip-Singh, Bijay-singh (1996) Kinetics of nitrification under upland and flooded soils of varying texture. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 27:2079–2089Google Scholar
  2. Bernhard-Reversat F (1988) Soil nitrogen mineralization under a Eucalyptus plantation and a natural Acacia forest in Senegal. Forest. Ecol Manage 23:233–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bijay-Singh, Bronson KF, Yadvinder-Singh, Khera TS, Pasuquin E (2001) Nitrogen-15 balance as affected by rice straw management in rice–wheat rotation in northwest India. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 59:227–237Google Scholar
  4. Buresh RJ, Woodhead T, Shepherd KD, Flordelis EV, Cabangon RC (1989) Nitrate accumulation and loss in a mungbean/lowland rice cropping system. Soil Sci Soc Am J 53:477–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cai ZC, Xing GX, Shen GY, Xu H, Yan XY (1999) Haruo Tsuruta, Kazuyuki Yagi, and Katsuyuki Minami. Measurements of CH4 and N2O emission from rice paddies in fengqiu, China. Soil Sci Plant Nutr 45(1):1–13Google Scholar
  6. Dawe D, Dobermann A, Moya P, Abdulrachman S, Lal P, Li SY, Lin B, Panaullah G, Sariam O, Singh Y, Swarup A, Tan PS, Zhen QX (2000) How widespread are yield declines in long-term rice experiments in Asia? Field Crops Res 66:175–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dobermann A, Witt C, Dawe D, Abdulrachman S, Gines HC, Nagarajan R, Satawathananont S, Son TT, Tan PS, Wang GH, Chien NV, Thoa VTK, Phung CV, Stalin P, Muthukrishnan P, Ravi V, BabU M, Chatuporn S, Sookthongsa J, Sun Q, Fu R, Simbahan GC, Adviento MAA (2002) Site-specific nutrient management for intensive rice cropping systems in Asia. Field Crops Res 74:37–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fan MS (2005) Integrated plant nutrient management for rice-upland crop rotation system, Ph.D. Dissertation, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China (In Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  9. Fan MS, Jiang RF, Liu XJ, Zhang FS, Lu SH, Zeng XZ, Christie P (2005) Interactions between non-flooded mulching cultivation and varying N inputs in rice–wheat rotations. Field Crops Res 91:307–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. FAO (2004) FAO Statistical databases. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Rome, http://www.fao.orgGoogle Scholar
  11. Fillery IRP, De Datta SK (1986) Ammonia volatilization from nitrogen sources applied to rice fields. I. Methodology, ammonia fluxes, and N-15 loss. Soil Sci Soc Am J 50:80–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. IFA (2002) Fertilizer Use by Crop, 5th edn. International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), International Potash Institute (IPI), Potash and Phosphate Institute (PPI), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Scholar
  13. Ju XT, Zhang FS, Bao XM, Römheld V, Roelcke M (2005) Utilization and management of organic wastes in Chineses agricultural: Past, present and perspectives. Sci China Ser C Life Sci 48:965–979Google Scholar
  14. Kundu DK, Ladha JK (1999) Sustaining productivity of lowland rice soils: issues and options related to N availability. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 53:19–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ladha JK, Dawe D, Pathak H, Padre AT, Yadav RL, Bijay Singh, Singh Yadvinder, Singh Y, Singh P, Kundu AL, Sakal R, Ram N, Regmi AP, Gami SK, Bhandari AL, Amin R, Yadav CR, Bhattarai EM, Das S, Aggarwal HP, Gupta RK, Hobbs PR (2003) How extensive are yield declines in long-term rice–wheat experiments in Asia? Field Crops Res 81:159–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ladha JK, Fischer KS, Hossain M, Hobbs PR, Hardy B (2000) Improving the productivity and sustainability of rice–wheat systems of the Indo-Gangetic Plains: A synthesis of NARS-IRRI partnership research. IRRI Discussion paper 40Google Scholar
  17. Liu XJ, Ai YW, Zhang FS, Lu SH, Zeng XZ, Fan MS (2005) Crop production, nitrogen recovery and water use efficiency in rice–wheat rotation as affected by non-flooded mulching cultivation (NFMC). Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 71:289–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Liu XJ, Ju XT Zhang FS, Pan JR, Christie P (2003) Nitrogen dynamics and budgets in a winter wheat–maize cropping system in the North China Plain. Field Crops Res 83:111–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lu SH, Zeng XZ, Zhang FS, Wang JC, Liu XJ (2002) NO3 –N pollution to underground water in country regions of Cheng du Plain. Acta Pedolo Sin 3(Suppl):286–293 (In Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  20. Peng S, Garcia FV, Laza RC, Sanico AL, Visperas RM, Cassman KG (1996) Increased N-use efficiency using a chlorophyll meter on high yielding irrigated rice. Field Crops Res 47:243–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Peng SB, Buresh R, Huang JL, Yang JC, Zou YB, Zhong XH, Wang GH, Zhang FS (2006) Strategies for overcoming low agronomic nitrogen use efficiency in irrigated rice systems in China. Field Crops Res 96:37–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Peng SB, Huang JL, Zhong XH, Yang JC, Wang GH, Zou YB, Zhang FS, Zhu QS, Buresh R, Witt C (2002) Challenge and opportunity in improving fertilizer-nitrogen use efficiency of irrigated rice in China. Agric Sci China 1(7):776–785Google Scholar
  23. Ponnamperuma FN (1985) Chemical kinetics of wetland rice soils relative to soil fertility. In: Wetland soils: Characteterization, classification, and utilization. International Rice Research Institute, Los Baňos, Baguna, Philippines, pp 71–80Google Scholar
  24. Richter J, Roelcke M (2000) The N-cycle as determined by intensive agriculture—examples from central Europe and China. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 57:33–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Shi XJ (2003) Nutrient cycling in rice-upland crop rotation system, Ph. D. Dissertation, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China (In Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  26. Shrestha RK, Ladha JK (1998) Nitrate in groundwater and integration of nitrogencatch crop in rice-sweet pepper cropping system. Soil Sci Soc Am J 62:1610–1619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Timsina J, DJ Connor (2001) Productivity and management of rice–wheat cropping systems: issues and challenges. Field Crops Res 69:93–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tripathi BP, JK Ladha J Timsina SR Pascoag (1997) Nitrogen dynamics and balance in intensified rained lowland rice-based cropping systems. Soil Sci Soc Am J 61:812–821CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wang Xinren, Cao Yiping, Zhang Fusuo, Chen Xinping (1995) Feasibility of a fertilizization method for keeping constant application rate of phosphorus by monitoring available phosphorus in the soil. Plant Nutr Fertil Sci 1(3–4):58–63 (In Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  30. Wilson DJ, Jefferies RL (1996) Nitrogen mineralization, plant growth and goose herbivory in an Arctic coastal ecosystem. J Ecol 84:841–851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Xing GX, Cao YC, Shi SL, Sun GQ, Du LJ, Zhu JG (2001) N pollution sources and denitrification in water bodies in Taihu lake region. Sci China (Ser B) 85:304–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Xing GX, Shi SL, She GY, Du LJ, Xiong ZQ (2002) Nitrous oxide emissions from paddy soil in three rice-based cropping systems in China. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 64(1–2):135–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Xiong ZQ (2002) The fate of nitrogen fertilizer and effect on environment in rice–wheat rotation. Ph D Dissertation. Institute of soil science, Chinese Academy of Sciences (In Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  34. Zhang FS, Fan MS, Zhao BQ, Chen XP, Chen Q, Li L, Shen JB, Fen G, Jiang RF, Ma WQ, Zhang WF, Cui ZL, Fan XL (2006) Fertilizer use, soil fertility and integrated nutrient management in China. In: Fan et al (eds) Improving plant nutrient management for better farmer livelihoods, food security and environmental sustainability proceeding of a regional workshop Beijing, China, 12–16 December, 2005. FAO, ISBN 978-974-7946-92-5. RAP publication 2006/27, pp 188–211Google Scholar
  35. Zheng XH, Fu CB, Xu XK, Yan XD, Huang Y, Han SH, Hu F, Chen GX (2002) The Asian nitrogen cycle case study. Ambio 31:79–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zhu ZL (1997) Fate and management of fertilizer nitrogen in agro-ecosystems. In: Zhu Z, Wen Q, Freney JR (eds) Nitrogen in soils of China. Kluwer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp 239–338Google Scholar
  37. Zhu ZL (1999) Soil nitrogen fertility and agricultural nitrogen management in China. In: Shen SM (ed) Soil fertility in China. Science Press, Beijing, China, pp 160–211 (In Chinese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mingsheng Fan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Shihua Lu
    • 4
  • Rongfeng Jiang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Xuejun Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Xiangzhong Zeng
    • 4
  • Keith W. T. Goulding
    • 5
  • Fusuo Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Plant NutritionChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Plant Nutrition and Nutrient CyclingMinistry of AgricultureBeijingChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Plant–Soil InteractionsMinistry of EducationBeijingChina
  4. 4.Institute of Soils and FertilizersSichuan Academy of Agricultural SciencesChengduChina
  5. 5.Agriculture and Environment DivisionRothamsted ResearchHarpendenUK

Personalised recommendations