Plant and Soil

, Volume 366, Issue 1–2, pp 551–561 | Cite as

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


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



This work was supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation, the Australian Research Council, the Victorian Department of Primary Industries and The University of Melbourne. The authors wish to thank Dr. Saman Seneweera for establishment and management of CO2 chambers, Mr. Peter Howie and Mr. Roger Perris for field assistance, Mr. Jianlei Sun and Dr. Xing Chen for chemical analyses, and Dr. Arvin R. Mosier for valuable comments on the manuscript.


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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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