Nitrate leaching from open-field and greenhouse vegetable systems in China: a meta-analysis
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The potential for nitrate leaching in Chinese vegetable systems is substantial because of high inputs of nitrogen (N) fertilizer and water. To quantify the nitrate leaching and identify the key controlling factors in Chinese vegetable systems, we conducted a meta-analysis that included 221 data sets from 18 field studies. The results revealed that nitrate leaching over the entire crop growing season in Chinese vegetable systems was very high and averaged 79.1 kg N ha−1 and primarily resulted from extremely high N fertilizer inputs (in average 423 kg N ha−1). Nitrate leaching was, on the average, 63.9% greater in the greenhouse systems (98.0 kg N ha−1) than in open-field systems (59.8 kg N ha−1). The leaching factor, defined as the proportion of the quantity of N applied to soils that was lost due to nitrate leaching, averaged 14.6% overall and was significantly lower in greenhouse systems (10.9%) than in open-field systems (18.4%). This difference appears to be due to lower of the total water inputs (irrigation + precipitation) in greenhouse systems. Nitrate leaching increased with water input, the number of growing days, and the N rate. The nitrate leaching response to increasing N rate was linear. The leaching factor significantly increased with water input but was not affected by the N rate or the number of growing days. Compared with application of synthetic fertilizer alone, the application of manure alone or manure plus synthetic fertilizer significantly reduced both the nitrate leaching and the leaching factor in open-field and greenhouse systems. These results suggest that nitrate leaching in Chinese vegetable systems can be reduced by optimizing rates of N and water supply to synchronize crop needs. Application of mixed synthetic N fertilizer and manure is more effective in reducing nitrate leaching, compared to synthetic N only.
KeywordsLeaching factor N rate Water input Growth season Fertilizer type
synthetic N fertilizer alone
manure N fertilizer alone
mixed with synthetic and manure N fertilizer.
We would like to thank Professor Russell Yost from the Department of Tropical Soils and Plant Sciences, University of Hawaii, USA, for revising the scientific English.
This research was jointly supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No.2017YFD0800403); the Changjiang Scholarship, Ministry of Education, China; and the CAU-SIERTE cooperation project.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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