, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 370–379 | Cite as

Agricultural Non-Point Source Pollution in China: Causes and Mitigation Measures

  • Bo Sun
  • Linxiu Zhang
  • Linzhang Yang
  • Fusuo Zhang
  • David Norse
  • Zhaoliang Zhu
Review Paper


Non-point source (NPS) pollution has been increasingly serious in China since the 1990s. The increases of agricultural NPS pollution in China is evaluated for the period 2000−2008 by surveying the literature on water and soil pollution from fertilizers and pesticides, and assessing the surplus nitrogen balance within provinces. The main causes for NPS pollution were excessive inputs of nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides, which were partly the result of the inadequate agricultural extension services and the rapid expansion of intensive livestock production with little of waste management. The annual application of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides in China increased by 50.7 and 119.7%, respectively, during 1991−2008. The mitigation measures to reduce NPS pollution include: correct distortion in fertilizer prices; improve incentives for the recycling of organic manure; provide farmers with better information on the sound use of agro-chemicals; and tighten the regulations and national standards on organic waste disposal and pesticides use.


Non-point source pollution Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers Organic manure Agricultural policy Mitigation strategy 



Financial support was provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (40871123), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZCX2-YW-407, KSCX2-YW-N-038), the Beijing and Vancouver Secretariats of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bo Sun
    • 1
  • Linxiu Zhang
    • 2
  • Linzhang Yang
    • 1
  • Fusuo Zhang
    • 3
  • David Norse
    • 4
  • Zhaoliang Zhu
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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