Changes in regional grain yield responses to chemical fertilizer use in china over the last 20 years

Xiaobin Wang*, Dianxiong Cai, Cynthia Grant, Willem B. Hoogmoed, Oene Oenema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


A major challenge facing China is to meet the increasing food demand of its growing population in the face of decreasing arable land area, while sustaining or improving soil productivity and avoiding adverse environmental impacts from intensive agriculture. This study uses data from China Statistical Yearbooks to analyze trends in regional soil productivity and grain yields in the major grain-producing regions in North China (NC), Northeast China (NE), East China (EC), Central China (CC), and Southwest China (SW), associated with regional fertilizer use and annual climate variation in rainfall and mean temperature over the 20 years. During 1992-2012, the average fertilizer increase rates (in kg ha-1 year-1) were in the order of regions CC (6.6) > NC (4.8) > EC (2.4) > SW (2.1) > NE (1.3), while yield responses to fertilizer use (with regression model coefficients, in kg kg-1) were in the order: SW (-0.9) < CC (1.1) < NC (1.7) < EC (5.7) < NE (9.3), showing higher yield responses to fertilizer use for NE and EC than for other regions. The changes in regional grain yields also showed higher yield responses to soil-based productivity for NC, CC, and SW, or to annual climate variability for CC than for other regions, indicating that other factors (such as inherent soil productivity or annual climate variability could be more important than fertilizer in affecting yields. The strategies for regulating nutrient management are needed considerably based on regional indigenous soil nutrient supply under varying regional climate conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-328
JournalJournal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Cropland
  • Fertilizer
  • Fertilizer-use efficiency
  • Grain yield
  • Soil productivity


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