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Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 81, Issue 3, pp 203–218 | Cite as

Major nutrient balances in small-scale vegetable farming systems in peri-urban areas in China

  • Hong-Jie Wang
  • Biao Huang
  • Xue-Zheng Shi
  • Jeremy Landon Darilek
  • Dong-Sheng Yu
  • Wei-Xia Sun
  • Yong-Cun Zhao
  • Qing Chang
  • Ingrid Öborn
Research Article

Abstract

Balances of major nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in small-scale farming systems are of critical importance to nutrient management and sustainable agricultural development. Mass balances of N, P, and K and some of their influencing factors were studied for two years from July 2003 to July 2005 on small-scale vegetable-farming systems in two contrasting peri-urban areas (Nanjing and Wuxi) of the Yangtze river delta region of China. This balance approach considered organic fertilizer inputs (cow manure, pig manure, and human biosolids), inorganic fertilizer inputs (urea, composite fertilizer, and phosphates), irrigation water, and atmospheric deposition; and considered outputs by vegetables. Input via organic fertilizers was significant for all element balances in the Nanjing area. Inorganic and organic fertilizer, particularly inorganic fertilizer, contributed major nutrient inputs to the system in the Wuxi area. Compared with nutrient output by vegetables, there were significant surpluses of N and P on two vegetable farm systems. Furthermore, N surplus in the Nanjing area was higher than that in the Wuxi area with an inverse relationship to P surplus. In contrast, the general trend of K balances was negative on both sites; hence, the nutrient use efficiency was significantly lower for N and P than K. The nutrient imbalance may be attributed to the differences between fertilizer types and management modes driven by social economic status differences among farmer households. The large N and P net excess creates an environmental threat because of potential losses to ground or surface waters, whereas negative K balance creates soil fertility risks. The results highlight researchers’ and farmers’ need to develop rational fertilization technology to optimize nutrient management on vegetable farmlands to promote sustainable agricultural development in peri-urban areas.

Keywords

Nutrient balance Vegetable farming systems Peri-urban areas Socio-economic status China 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful for funding from the EU (Contract No. ICA4-CT−2002–10021), the National Key Basic Research Support Foundation of China (2002CB410810), and the Natural Science Foundation of China (40773075). The authors would also like to thank the farmers of Nanjing and Wuxi peri-urban areas for their active and valuable participation.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hong-Jie Wang
    • 1
  • Biao Huang
    • 1
  • Xue-Zheng Shi
    • 1
  • Jeremy Landon Darilek
    • 1
  • Dong-Sheng Yu
    • 1
  • Wei-Xia Sun
    • 1
  • Yong-Cun Zhao
    • 1
  • Qing Chang
    • 1
  • Ingrid Öborn
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science Chinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of Soil ScienceThe Swedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden

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