Effects of different fertilization regimes on nitrogen and phosphorus losses by surface runoff and bacterial community in a vegetable soil

  • Bo Yi
  • Qichun Zhang
  • Chao Gu
  • Jiangye Li
  • Touqeer Abbas
  • Hongjie Di
Soils, Sec 1 • Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Nutrient Cycling • Research Article



Vegetables are major economic crops in China. Their cultivation usually involves high fertilizer application rates leading to significant losses of N and P to the wider environment, resulting in water contamination and low nutrient use efficiency. Hence, it is a matter of urgency to understand the mechanisms and factors that affect N and P losses in vegetable production systems in order to develop optimum fertilization regimes.

Materials and methods

Different fertilization regimes were applied in a long-term chili (Capsicum spp. L.) production soil to study the effects on nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) runoff losses, microbial biomass, microbial community, and crop yields. Three fertilization regimes were implemented: control (no fertilizer; CK), farmer’s fertilization practice (FFP), and site-specific nutrient management (SSNM). A fixed collection device was used to quantify the total volume of water output after each precipitation event. All water samples were analyzed for total nitrogen, ammonium nitrogen (NH4+-N), nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N), total phosphorus (TP), and available phosphorus (AP). Soil samples were collected for analysis of the physicochemical properties and for DNA extraction after chili harvest. High-throughput sequencing was used to further investigate the relationship between the microbial community and nutrient losses.

Results and discussion

The SSNM fertilizer regime resulted in a 23.3% yield increase and enhanced agronomic N use efficiency from 11.87 to 15.67% compared with the FFP treatment. Soil available nutrients (i.e., AN and AP) and ATP content increased significantly after SSNM implementation. Under the SSNM regime, N losses decreased by 25.8% compared with FFP but did not lead to significantly different P losses. High-throughput sequencing results showed that each treatment formed a unique microbial community structure. VPA results revealed that the microbial community structure was mainly (50.56%) affected by the interactions between N and P. Mantel results indicated that the soil properties that significantly affected soil microbial community structure followed the order: AP, AK, and salinity.


Our study has demonstrated that SSNM not only generates lower N losses but also provides higher contents of soil available nutrients and plant yield, which were mainly attributed to the multiple top dressings and meeting of the plants’ demand with adequate nutrient supplies. The combined data showed that the microbial community differentiation between the different fertilizer regimes was mainly linked to the interactions between N and P in the soil.


Fertilization High-throughput sequencing Microorganism Nitrogen Phosphorus Surface runoff 


Funding information

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the National Key Science and Technology Project: Water Pollution Control and Treatment (2014ZX07101-012), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0801103), and Science & Research Program of Zhejiang Province (Grant No. 2016C32084).

Supplementary material

11368_2018_1991_MOESM1_ESM.docx (194 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 193 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bo Yi
    • 1
  • Qichun Zhang
    • 1
  • Chao Gu
    • 1
  • Jiangye Li
    • 2
  • Touqeer Abbas
    • 1
  • Hongjie Di
    • 1
  1. 1.Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Agricultural Resources and Environment, Key Laboratory of Environment Remediation and Ecological Health, Ministry of EducationZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Institute of Resources and EnvironmentJiangsu Academy of Agricultural SciencesNanjingChina

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