Strategies for overcoming low agronomic nitrogen use efficiency in irrigated rice systems in China uri icon

abstract

  • Irrigated rice in China accounts for nearly 30% of global rice production and about 7% of global nitrogen (N) consumption. The low agronomic N use efficiency (AE(N), kg grain yield increase per kg N applied) of this system has become a threat to the environment. The objective of this study was to determine the possibility to improve the AE(N) of irrigated rice in China by comparing the farmers' N-fertilizer practices with other N management strategies such as real-time N management (RTNM) and fixed-time adjustable-dose N management (FTNM). Field experiments were conducted in farmers' fields in four major rice-growing provinces in China in 2001 and 2002. The same experiment was repeated at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) farm in the dry seasons of 2002 and 2003. Agronomic N use efficiency was determined by the "difference method" using an N-omission plot. Maximum yield was achieved mostly at 60-120 kg N ha(-1), which was significantly lower than the 180-240 kg N ha(-1) applied in farmers' practices at the Chinese sites. With the modified farmers' fertilizer practice, a 30% reduction in total N rate during the early vegetative stage did not reduce yield but slightly increased yield and doubled AE(N) compared with the farmers' practice at the Chinese sites. The total N rate in RTNM and FTNM ranged from 30 to 120 kg ha(-1) at the Chinese sites, but their yields were similar to or higher than that of the farmers' practice. Compared with the modified farmers' practice, RTNM and FTNM further increased AE(N) at the Chinese sites. Overall, FTNM performed better than RTNM at the Chinese sites because the total N rate of FTNM was closer to the optimal level than RTNM. A quantum leap in AE(N) is possible in the intensive rice-growing areas in China by simply reducing the current N rate and by allocating less N at the early vegetative stage. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2006
  • 2006
  • 2006