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IARRP team finds relationship between potato nutrient levels and environmental pollution

By IARRP | Updated: 2022-08-12

The Innovation Team of Plant Nutrition of the Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning (IARRP) of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) developed a potato nutrient expert system based on  multi-year and point and field test data. They carried out field experiments in terms of yield, agronomy and environmental benefits, and analyzed that improving the level of potato nutrient can increase yield while reducing potential for environmental pollution.

The relevant research results were published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.

According to researcher He Ping, due to the lack of strong nutrient recommendation by farmers, excessive fertilization is common in potato production, resulting in nutrient losses and environmental pollution. In order to reduce the risk of environmental pollution, and realize the flexibility and convenience of the potato nutrient recommendation method, the research team developed the Nutrient Expert (NE) for Potato system, a recommended fertilization method for potatoes based on yield response and agronomic efficiency. It is based on multi-year and point field trial data from 2002 to 2019. And 239 field trials were carried out nationwide to verify the system.

The NE system is a set of recommended fertilization schemes based on the 4R nutrient management principles of crops, which are based on a large database from field fertilizer experiments. In the NE system, the level of crop yield response after fertilization to characterize the soil nutrient supply capacity, and comprehensively consider the crop rotation system, organic fertilizer and straw returning conditions. For the convenience of users, information technology is used to simplify the complex fertilization principle into a user-friendly NE system. Users only need to provide the yield level and fertilization history and then they can give a specific fertilization plan based on the personalized information of the field.

The results of the study indicated that the potato yield and economic benefit of the NE treatment increased by 9.0% and 8.9%, respectively.  Compared with the FP (farmers' practices), the nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer application rates were reduced by 24.4% and 32.4%, and the potassium fertilizer application rate was increased by 5.0%. Greenhouse gas balance (Net GHG balance) and greenhouse gas emission intensity (GHGI) are at low levels.

The results of the study demonstrate that the NE method can be used to guide the nutrient management of farmers in potato-producing areas in China to achieve higher yields and economic benefits, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Associate researcher Xu Xinpeng of the IARRP is the first author, and researcher He Ping and academician Zhou Wei are the co-corresponding authors. The research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Agriculture Research System of China, the Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Program of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and the National Key R&D Program of China.

Paper link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.133357