Modeling soil acidification in typical Chinese cropping systems

Qichao Zhu, Xuejun Liu, Tianxiang Hao, Mufan Zeng, Jianbo Shen, Fusuo Zhang, Wim De Vries*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


We applied the adapted model VSD + to assess cropland acidification in four typical Chinese cropping systems (single Maize (M), Wheat-Maize (W-M), Wheat-Rice (W-R) and Rice-Rice (R-R)) on dominant soils in view of its potential threat to grain production. By considering the current situation and possible improvements in field (nutrient) management, five scenarios were designed: i) Business as usual (BAU); ii) No nitrogen (N) fertilizer increase after 2020 (N2020); iii) 100% crop residues return to cropland (100%RR); iv) manure N was applied to replace 30% of chemical N fertilizer (30%MR) and v) Integrated N2020 and 30%MR with 100%RR after 2020 (INMR). Results illustrated that in the investigated calcareous soils, the calcium carbonate buffering system can keep pH at a high level for > 150 years. In non-calcareous soils, a moderate to strong decline in both base saturation and pH is predicted for the coming decades in the BAU scenario. We predicted that approximately 13% of the considered croplands may suffer from Al toxicity in 2050 following the BAU scenario. The N2020, 100%RR and 30%MR scenarios reduce the acidification rates by 16%, 47% and 99%, respectively, compared to BAU. INMR is the most effective strategy on reducing acidification and leads to no Al toxicity in croplands in 2050. Both improved manure and field management are required to manage acidification in wheat-maize cropping system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1339-1348
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • China
  • Cropland
  • Mitigation
  • Scenarios
  • Soil acidification
  • VSD + model


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