Soil nitrate accumulation and leaching in conventional, optimized and organic cropping systems D., Zheng L., Gu S., Shi Y., Liang L., Meng F., Guo Y., Ju X., Wu W. (2018): Soil nitrate accumulation and leaching in conventional, optimized and organic cropping systems. Plant Soil Environ., 64: 156-163.
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Excessive nitrogen (N) and water input, which are threatening the sustainability of conventional agriculture in the North China Plain (NCP), can lead to serious leaching of nitrate-N (NO3-N). This study evaluates grain yield, N and water consumption, NO3-N accumulation and leaching in conventional and two optimized winter wheat-summer maize double-cropping systems and an organic alfalfa-winter wheat cropping system. The results showed that compared to the conventional cropping system, the optimized systems could reduce N, water consumption and NO3-N leaching by 33, 35 and 67–74%, respectively, while producing nearly identical grain yields. In optimized systems, soil NO3-N accumulation within the root zone was about 80 kg N/ha most of the time. In the organic system, N input, water consumption and NO3-N leaching was reduced even more (by 71, 43 and 92%, respectively, compared to the conventional system). However, grain yield also declined by 46%. In the organic system, NO3-N accumulation within the root zone was generally less than 30 kg N/ha. The optimized systems showed a considerable potential to reduce N and water consumption and NO3-N leaching while maintaining high grain yields, and thus should be considered for sustainable agricultural development in the NCP.


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