Leaching losses of nitrate nitrogen and dissolved organic nitrogen from a yearly two crops system, wheat-maize, under monsoon situations

  • Manxiang Huang
  • Tao Liang
  • Zhu Ou-Yang
  • Lingqing Wang
  • Chaosheng Zhang
  • Chenghu Zhou
Original Article


A large amount of nitrogen (N) fertilizers applied to the winter wheat–summer maize double cropping systems in the North China Plain (NCP) contributes largely to N leaching to the groundwater. A series of field experiments were carried out during October 2004 and September 2007 in a lysimeter field to reveal the temporal changes of N leaching losses below 2-m depth from this land system as well as the effects of N fertilizer application rates on N leaching. Four N rates (0, 180, 260, and 360 kg N ha−1 as urea) were applied in the study area. Seasonal leachate volumes were 87 and 72 mm in the first and second maize season, respectively, and 13 and 4 mm during the winter wheat and maize season in the third rotational year, respectively. The average seasonal flow-weighted NO3-N concentrations in leachate for the four N fertilizer application rates ranged from 8.1 to 103.7 mg N l−1, and seasonal flow-weighted dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) concentrations in leachate varied from 0.8 to 6.0 mg N l−1. Total amounts of NO3-N leaching lost throughout the 3 years were in the range of 14.6 to 177.8 kg ha−1 for the four N application rates, corresponding to N leaching losses in the range of 4.0–7.6% of the fertilizers applied. DON losses throughout the 3 years were 1.4, 2.1, 3.6, and 6.3 kg N ha−1 for the four corresponding fertilization rates. The application rate of 180 kg N ha−1 was recommended based on the balance between reducing N leaching and maintaining crop yields. The results indicated that there is a potential risk of N leaching during the winter wheat season, and over-fertilization of chemical N can result in substantial N leaching losses by high-intensity rainfalls in summer.


Dissolved organic nitrogen Nitrate nitrogen Leaching losses 



This study was sponsored by the National Natural Scientific Foundation of China (No. 4047110 and 40871225) and the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (2005CB121100). We also thank two anonymous referees for their valuable comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manxiang Huang
    • 1
  • Tao Liang
    • 1
  • Zhu Ou-Yang
    • 1
  • Lingqing Wang
    • 1
  • Chaosheng Zhang
    • 2
  • Chenghu Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Environmental Change InstituteNational University of IrelandGalwayIreland

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