Intensive irrigated rice-wheat crop systems have caused serious soil depletion and nitrogen loss in the Tai Lake region of China. A possible solution is the incorporation of legumes in rice because legumes are a source of nitrogen. There is actually little knowledge on the impact of legumes on rotation, soil fertility, and nitrogen loss. Therefore, we studied the effect of five rice-based rotations, including rice-wheat, rice-rape, rice-fallow, rice-bean, and rice-vetch, on soil nitrogen, rice yield, and runoff loss. A field experiment was conducted in the Tai Lake region from 2009 to 2012. Crop residues from rape, bean, and vetch were used to partially replace chemical fertilizer in rice. Results show that replacing 9.5–21.4 % of mineral nitrogen fertilizer by residues maintained rice yields of rice-rape, rice-bean, and rice-vetch rotations, compared to the rice-wheat reference. Moreover, using legumes as a winter crop in rice-bean and rice-vetch combinations increased rice grain yield over 5 %, and increased rice residue nitrogen content by 9.7–20.5 %. Nitrogen runoff decreased 30–60 % in rice-rape, rice-bean, and rice-vetch compared with rice-wheat. Soil mineral nitrogen and microbial biomass nitrogen content were also improved by application of leguminous residues.
Rice yield Soil nitrogen supply capacity Non-point pollution Crop rotations Legumes Chemical nitrogen fertilizer reduction Runoff nitrogen loss
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This study was partly funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41171235, 40901104), and the Key Project of National Science and Technology on water pollution control and treatment (2012ZX07101-004).
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