Fates of 15N-labeled fertilizer in a black soil-maize system and the response to straw incorporation in Northeast China
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Over-fertilization has caused low nitrogen (N) use efficiency and N pollution in China. A better understanding of the fate of fertilizer N is critical for improved appropriate N management practices.
Materials and methods
We examined the fate of urea-N applied to a typical black soil-maize system and the response to straw incorporation in Northeast China using the field 15N labeling technique. Large plots (25 m2) were used to reduce artificial disturbance and facilitate multiple samplings in one growing season.
Results and discussion
We found that of the applied N (200 kg N ha−1), 52% was taken up by crops at harvest and 24% was retained in the soil (0–40 cm). The unrecovered 23% was likely lost via gases emission or leaching, which mainly occurred in the early days of maize cultivation. Fertilizer N contributions to the crop N uptake were 42% during vegetative growth and 30% during reproductive growth, which indirectly indicates that native soil N was the dominant N source for maize growth. However, high N uptake by maize resulted in low replenishment of fertilizer N to soil N. As a potential nutrient management approach, straw incorporation (2.4 t ha−1) stimulated N retention and reduced N loss, with 14% unrecovered fertilizer N.
To maintain long-term soil N supplies, straw incorporation could be a valid agronomic practice to prevent the degradation of black soil because of long-term N depletion during maize cultivation in Northeast China.
Keywords15N labeling Mollisol Allocation Fertilizer-derived N Nitrogen use efficiency
We thank Dr. Hongguang Cai, Dr. Yang Wang, and Xuegong Yan in Jilin Academy of Agricultural Sciences for their help with field sampling. We also thank Xiaoming Fang, Meixia Gao, Linlin Song, and Ying Tu in Institute of Applied Ecology, CAS for their help with sample processing and laboratory analysis.
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