Increasing nitrogen use efficiency in agriculture reduces future coastal water pollution in China

Ang Li, M. Strokal, C. Kroeze, M. Wang, L. Ma

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperpeer-review


Chinese agriculture has been industrializing since the 1990s to produce enough food. This increased nitrogen
(N) in Chinese rivers and coastal waters, resulting in eutrophication-related problems. We analysed three
options to reduce future N pollution of coastal waters in China by 2050. We did it using the MARINA
Nutrient model (a Model to Assess River Inputs of Nutrients to seAs). Two optimistic scenarios (OPT-1 and
OPT-2) were developed, taking the Global Orchestration scenario (GO) of the Millennium Ecosystem
Assessment as a baseline. These scenarios assume efficient N management in agriculture (OPT-1 and OPT2)
and sewage (OPT-2). We also assessed effects of the “Zero growth in fertilizer use after 2020” policy (the
CP scenario). Results show that N management in agriculture is more effective to reduce future N pollution
of coastal waters than N management of sewage. In GO, Chinese rivers are projected to export 38-56% more
N in 2050 than in 2000 because of poor manure management. The current policy in agriculture (CP) may not
be successful to reduce coastal water pollution. In contrast, our more optimistic scenarios project much lower
river export of N in 2050 (at around levels of 1970 for northern rivers and 2000 levels for central and
southern rivers). This is mainly because OPT-1 assumes high rates of manure recycling, leading to decreased
use of synthetic fertilizers. Improved sewage management in OPT-2 can further reduce N export by northern
rivers. Our results can serve as a basis for decision makers on N management.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventInternational Nitrogen Initiative Conference - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 4 Dec 20168 Dec 2016


ConferenceInternational Nitrogen Initiative Conference


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