Assessment of farmers' water and fertilizer practices and perceptions in the North China Plain

Xiulu Sun*, Henk Ritzema, Xiuqiao Huang, Xiaojun Bai, Petra Hellegers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Irrigation and fertilization are vital to increasing crop yield, but their application often exceeds crop requirements. Excessive fertilization under inefficient irrigation depletes the already scarce water resources while contributing to water pollution. To overcome these problems, the introduction of fertigation in combination with modern irrigation technologies has been promoted in the North China Plain (NCP), but farmers have been reluctant to adopt such technologies. To better understand the current situation and farmers' perceptions, we performed a case study in the People's Victory Canal Irrigation District (PVCID) of NCP. A field survey was carried out using a participatory approach, and field monitoring was conducted on a representative farm. We found that farmers are generally satisfied with their irrigation and fertilization practices, although they result in low application efficiency and distribution uniformity. In principle, the lack of knowledge about how to implement fertigation technology, the small-scale farming conditions, and the high cost of developing advanced fertigation systems are the main obstacles for fertigation adoption. We further conclude that (i) to improve the on-farm performance in terms of efficiency and uniformity of irrigation and fertilization, evidence-based guidelines are required to help farmers to implement; (ii) for effective adoption of new technologies, consideration of farmers' situation and perspectives is critical; and (iii) surface fertigation might be a good start for fertigation promotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)980-996
JournalIrrigation and Drainage
Issue number4
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • fertigation
  • field monitoring
  • participatory approach
  • surface irrigation


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