Plant and Soil

, Volume 347, Issue 1–2, pp 41–51 | Cite as

Responses of soil water balance and precipitation storage efficiency to increased fertilizer application in winter wheat

Regular Article


Increased fertilizer use over many years may have detrimental effects on crop production due to its high soil water consumption in rainfed regions. In this study, based on a long-term fertilization experiment initiated in 1984, we report the effect of increased fertilization on soil water balance, precipitation storage efficiency (PSE), yield and water use efficiency of winter wheat from 2005 to 2009. The experimental design consisted of a control treatment (CK) and three fertilizer treatments: nitrogen, phosphorus and manure (NPM), nitrogen and phosphorus (NP), and nitrogen (N). Soil water storage in NP and NPM was significantly lower than that in CK and N at both harvest and planting time. Compared with the CK, on average, treatments N, NP and NPM increased soil water recharge during the fallow period by 11%, 22% and 17%, and they also increased soil water depletion during growing season by 17%, 23% and 23% (P < 0.05), respectively. The average value of annual soil water balance was positive for all treatments, and was not significantly different among treatments. Increased fertilizer application significantly (P < 0.05) increased PSE during the summer fallow periods, and the average PSE was 28%, 32%, 34% and 33% for CK, N, NP and NPM, respectively. Wheat yield and water use efficiency increased significantly after long term fertilization, especially for treatments NP and NPM. The results indicated that more of rainfall was used for evapotranspiration and less was lost during the fallow season for the high fertility treatments after long term fertilizer application. In the long run, such changes in water use pattern could help to improve the sustainability of winter wheat production.


Soil water recharge Soil water depletion Summer fallow Dryland farming Rainfed farming 



analysis of variance

CK, N, NP and NPM

fertilizer application treatment




evaporation during the summer fallow


evapotranspiration during the growing season from late September to late June




precipitation during the summer fallow


precipitation during the growing season from late September to late June


precipitation through the whole year from the beginning of the fallow period to the end of the growing season


precipitation storage efficiency

Sh and Sh

soil water storage at harvest time at the end of the previous harvest and at harvest respectively


soil water storage at planting time


soil water balance


soil water balance during the summer fallow


soil water balance during the growing season from late September to late June


soil water balance during the whole year from the beginning of the fallow period to the end of the growing season


water use efficiency



The authors acknowledge Prof. Neil C. Turner for the language improvements and primary editing on this manuscript. The authors also thank the Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. kzcx2-yw-424), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30500077), and Special-Funds of Scientific Research Programs of State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau (NO 10502-Z10) for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Urban and Environmental ScienceNorthwest UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water ConservationNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina

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