Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 107, Issue 2, pp 265–277 | Cite as

Estimating the potential to reduce potassium surplus in intensive vegetable fields of China

Original Article


Potassium (K) is important for crop quality, and this knowledge has stimulated substantial K fertilizer application in intensive cropping systems of China, resulting in an unbalanced nutrient supply and the squandering of K resources. In this study, we assessed the status of K in China’s intensive vegetable planting systems using data from the literature and our recent results. Scenario analysis was designed to estimate the potential for reducing chemical K fertilizer based on the K recommended strategy and manure replacement strategies. The results showed that K surplus, and soil exchangeable K levels in vegetable fields increased during the period with a stable growing area (2003–) compared to the period with an expanding growing area (before 2003). Much higher K surplus and accumulation and more severe K leaching were observed in greenhouse. Excessive K application contributed to low K use efficiency and K resource waste. Based on the data analysis, the K consumption derived from chemical fertilizer and organic amendments was 8.2 million Mg K, though the theoretical demand for vegetable planting was only 6.0 million Mg K with the K recommendation strategy of “build-up and maintenance (B&M)”. Scenario analysis suggested that chemical K fertilizer application could be reduced by 21.7, 69.6 and 54.3% by considering alternative K sources derived from manure and straw, as based on the conventional proportion, N-based strategy and P-based strategy, respectively. Maximizing the use of K from organic amendments requires limiting manure application by considering environmental deterioration and the topdressing requirement with chemical K fertilizer.


Potassium surplus Vegetable Reducing potential Organic amendment Replacing Chemical fertilizer 



We appreciate the financial support from the Modern Agricultural Industry Technology System of Beijing Innovation Team Project (BAIC01-2016).

Supplementary material

10705_2017_9835_MOESM1_ESM.docx (387 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 385 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and Environmental SciencesChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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