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Soil nutrient loss due to tuber crop harvesting and its environmental impact in the North China Plain

Yu, Han-qing, Li, Yong, Zhou, Na, Chappell, Adrian, LI, Xiao-yu and Poesen, Jean 2016. Soil nutrient loss due to tuber crop harvesting and its environmental impact in the North China Plain. Journal of Integrative Agriculture 15 (7) , pp. 1612-1624. 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61268-0

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Soil loss due to crop harvesting (SLCH) is a soil erosion process that significantly contributes to soil degradation in croplands. However, little is known about soil nutrient losses caused by SLCH and its environmental impacts. In the North China Plain area, we measured the losses of soil organic carbon (SOC) and nitrogen as well as phosphorus due to SLCH and assessed their relationship with soil particle size composition, agronomic practices and soil moisture content. Our results show that the losses by harvesting potato of SOC, total nitrogen (TN), available nitrogen (AN), available phosphorus (AP) and total phosphorus (TP) were 1.7, 1.8, 1.8, 15.9 and 14.1 times compared by harvesting sweet potato, respectively. The variation of SOC, N and P loss by SLCH are mainly explained by the variation of plant density (PD) (17–50%), net mass of an individual tuber (Mcrop/p) (16–74%), soil clay content (34–70%) and water content (19–46%). Taking into account the current sewage treatment system and the ratio of the nutrients adhering to the tubers during transportation from the field (NTRP/SP), the loss of TN and TP by harvesting of potato and sweet potato in the North China Plain area amounts to 3% N and 20% P loads in the water bodies of this region. The fate of the exported N and P in the sewage treatment system ultimately controls the contribution of N and P to the pollution of lakes and rivers. Our results suggest that a large amount of SLCH-induced soil nutrient export during transportation from the field is a potential pollutant source for agricultural water for vast planting areas of tuber crops in China, and should not be overlooked.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 2095-3119
Date of Acceptance: 2 December 2015
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2018 15:16

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