Plant and Soil

, Volume 366, Issue 1, pp 551–561

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

  • Shu Kee Lam
  • Deli Chen
  • Rob Norton
  • Roger Armstrong
Regular Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11104-012-1448-4

Cite this article as:
Lam, S.K., Chen, D., Norton, R. et al. Plant Soil (2013) 366: 551. doi:10.1007/s11104-012-1448-4


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.


Elevated [CO2Residue incorporation Wheat growth Fertilizer N recovery 15

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shu Kee Lam
    • 1
  • Deli Chen
    • 1
  • Rob Norton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Roger Armstrong
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Melbourne School of Land and EnvironmentThe University of MelbourneVictoriaAustralia
  2. 2.International Plant Nutrition InstituteHorshamAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Primary IndustriesHorshamAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Agricultural SciencesLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia

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