Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 4901–4912 | Cite as

Optimizing nitrogen management to balance rice yield and environmental risk in the Yangtze River’s middle reaches

  • Jing Wang
  • Penghao Fu
  • Fei Wang
  • Shah Fahad
  • Pravat K. Mohapatra
  • Yutiao Chen
  • Congde Zhang
  • Shaobing Peng
  • Kehui Cui
  • Lixiao Nie
  • Jianliang HuangEmail author
Research Article


Currently, the urgency of balancing rice production and environmental risk from nitrogen (N) fertilization is gaining scientific and public attention. As such, a field experiment was conducted to investigate the rice yield and the fate of applied-15N for Yangliangyou 6 (a two-line hybrid cultivar) and Lvdaoq 7 (an inbred cultivar) using 10 combinations of N rates and splitting ratios in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. The results showed that N application primarily affected fertilizer N loss to the environment, followed by plant N absorption, but had little effect on grain yield. Generally, there was no significant increase in grain yield and N accumulation in the aboveground plant when N inputs surpassed 130 or 170 kg ha−1. Fertilizer N residue in soil peaked at approximately 48 kg ha−1 at an N rate of 170 kg ha−1 for both varieties; however, a sharp increase of fertilizer N loss occurred with further incrementally increasing N rates. Although a higher ratio of panicle-N fertilizer together with a lower ratio of tillering-N fertilizer at rates of 130, 170, and 210 kg ha−1 had no grain yield benefit, it promoted aboveground N accumulation and plant N accumulation derived from fertilizer, and it reduced the amount of N residue in soil and N loss to the environment. Overall, reducing tillering-N ratios and increasing panicle-N ratios at an N rate between 130 and 170 kg ha−1 using fertilizer rates of 90–0–40 kg ha−1 and 90–40–40 kg ha−1 N at basal-tillering-panicle initiation stages could reduce the adverse environmental risks of chemical N from rice production without sacrificing rice yield.


Environmental risk Grain yield 15N tracer Nitrogen loss Nitrogen management Rice 



Valuable suggestions given by Dr. Xiong D-L of College of Plant Science and Technology of Huazhong Agricultural University are also acknowledged.

Author contributions

Jianliang Huang and Jing Wang initiated and designed the research, Jing Wang, Penghao Fu, Yutiao Chen, and Congde Zhang performed the experiments, Jing Wang, Fei Wang, and Shah Fahad analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript, and Fei Wang, Shah Fahad, Pravat K. Mohapatra, Jianliang Huang, Shaobing Peng, Kehui Cui, Lixiao Nie, and Dongliang Xiong revised and edited the manuscript and also provided advices on the experiments.

Funding information

This work was supported by a grant from the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2016YFD0300210) and a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31671620).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Competing financial interests

The corresponding author on behalf of all coauthors, declare no competing financial interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jing Wang
    • 1
  • Penghao Fu
    • 1
  • Fei Wang
    • 1
  • Shah Fahad
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pravat K. Mohapatra
    • 3
  • Yutiao Chen
    • 1
  • Congde Zhang
    • 4
  • Shaobing Peng
    • 1
  • Kehui Cui
    • 1
  • Lixiao Nie
    • 1
  • Jianliang Huang
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, MOA Key Laboratory of Crop Ecophysiology and Farming System in the Middle Reaches of the Yangtze River, College of Plant Science and TechnologyHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.Department of AgricultureUniversity of SwabiSwabiPakistan
  3. 3.School of Life SciencesSambalpur UniversitySambalpurIndia
  4. 4.Agricultural Bureau of Wuxue CityWuxueChina
  5. 5.Hubei Collaborative Innovation Center for Grain IndustryYangtze UniversityJingzhouChina

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