, Volume 39, Issue 5–6, pp 376–384 | Cite as

Current Nitrogen Management Status and Measures to Improve the Intensive Wheat–Maize System in China

  • Zhenling Cui
  • Xinping Chen
  • Fusuo Zhang


During the first 35 years of the Green Revolution, Chinese grain production doubled, greatly reducing food shortage, but at a high environmental cost. In 2005, China alone accounted for around 38% of the global N fertilizer consumption, but the average on-farm N recovery efficiency for the intensive wheat–maize system was only 16–18%. Current on-farm N use efficiency (NUE) is much lower than in research trials or on-farm in other parts of the world, which is attributed to the overuse of chemical N fertilizer, ignorance of the contribution of N from the environment and the soil, poor synchrony between crop N demand and N supply, failure to bring crop yield potential into full play, and an inability to effectively inhibit N losses. Based on such analyses, some measures to drastically improve NUE in China are suggested, such as managing various N sources to limit the total applied N, spatially and temporally matching rhizospheric N supply with N demand in high-yielding crops, reducing N losses, and simultaneously achieving high-yield and high NUE. Maximizing crop yields using a minimum of N inputs requires an integrated, interdisciplinary cooperation and major scientific and practical breakthroughs involving plant nutrition, soil science, agronomy, and breeding.


Nitrogen management Nitrogen use efficiency Environment Crop yield China 


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant Nutrition, College of Resource and Environmental SciencesChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina

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