Can the advisory system Nutrient Expert® balance productivity, profitability and sustainability for rice production systems in China?

Zhuo Xu, Ping He*, Xinyou Yin*, Qiuhong Huang, Wencheng Ding, Xinpeng Xu, Paul C. Struik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

CONTEXT: To avoid excessive chemical-fertilizer application and improve agricultural productivity in rice, a fertilizer recommendation system called Nutrient Expert® (NE) was designed. However, the ability of NE to balance yield, profitability and environmental sustainability in rice production needs to be further evaluated, as it is still difficult for farmers to assess the proper nitrogen (N) application rate. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to demonstrate the advantages of the NE system in balancing yield, profitability and N loss in rice production, and recommend proper N application rates for different cropping seasons of rice. METHODS: This study describes results from field experiments conducted in five main rice cropping provinces from 2017 to 2020 in China, to investigate any advantages of NE compared with local farmers' practice (FP), and to determine the proper N application rates for different cropping seasons of rice. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Compared with FP, NE had 12.1% lower N-fertilizer application, but increased rice grain yield by 4.3% and net profit by 7.4%, and decreased yield-scaled N loss by 20.7%. We showed how yield, profitability and N loss were affected by N balance (i.e., N applied to the field minus N removed from the field by the harvested crop biomass), and quantified relationships between N balance and N application rate, and between N output and input. Based on relationships between N balance and N application rate, we recommend N application rates in a range from 122 to 214 kg ha−1, depending on cropping seasons of rice. We demonstrated that NE can simultaneously improve yield, profitability and environmental sustainability. SIGNIFICANCE: Our study provided quantitative support for NE-based recommendations on the N application rate for smallholders farming in different rice cropping systems, and these recommendations can serve as a reference for avoiding excessive N application rate in paddy fields in other regions with similar eco-environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103575
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume205
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Environmental benefit
  • Nitrogen application rate
  • Nitrogen balance
  • Nitrogen loss
  • Oryza sativa
  • Sustainable agriculture

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