Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 115, Issue 3, pp 313–329 | Cite as

Integrated N management improves nitrogen use efficiency and economics in a winter wheat–summer maize multiple-cropping system

  • Haiyan Liang
  • Xueling Zhang
  • Juan Han
  • Yuncheng Liao
  • Yang LiuEmail author
  • Xiaoxia WenEmail author
Original Article


Indiscriminate use of nitrogen (N) fertilizer is a serious issue throughout China, which negatively affects the food security and the environment. Therefore, it is vitally important to establish an annual optimal fertilization strategy. In this study, we conducted a 2-year field experiment (2015–2017), which examined the effects of conventional N application practice (annual N application rate of 510 kg ha−1, urea used as two-split fertilization of wheat and maize, respectively, N1) and four optimized N treatments with reduced N rates (annual N application rate of 420 kg ha−1, N2), reduced application times and used SRF at jointing stage of maize (N3), used fertilizer mixture at jointing stage of maize (N4) and fertilizer mixture used at jointing stage of wheat and maize (N5), respectively. The results indicated that the optimized fertilization treatments did not reduce wheat or maize yield. The annual N-agronomic efficiency (NAE) of the optimized fertilization treatments increased by 6.75–27.59% and 2.53–39.87% in 2016 and 2017, respectively, compared with the N1 treatment. The N-uptake efficiency, N-fertilizer productivity, and NAE of the optimized fertilization treatments were higher than N1 treatment, particularly for treatments with a mixture of urea and slow-release fertilizer. The N-translocation efficiency and N-harvest index were not significantly affected. Furthermore, economic analysis showed that the annual net revenue increased by 12.2–18.7% and 10.7–46.5% in 2016 and 2017, respectively, compared with the N1 treatment. These results indicate that an appropriate reduction of N application dosage and combination of slow-release fertilizers and urea improve the NAE and stabilize crop yield, thereby decreasing the input costs and enhancing economic benefits. This optimal management might represent an alternative for wheat–maize production in northern China in terms of annual nitrogen management and profitability.


Wheat–maize multiple-cropping system Grain yield Nitrogen-use efficiency Optimal nitrogen management 



This research was financially supported by Special Project for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (201503121-09), Shaanxi Province Key Research and Development Plan (2018ZDXM–NY-002).


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of AgronomyNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina

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