Agronomic Characteristics Related to Grain Yield and Nutrient Use Efficiency for Wheat Production in China
In order to make clear the recent status and trend of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) production in China, datasets from multiple field experiments and published literature were collected to study the agronomic characteristics related to grain yield, fertilizer application and nutrient use efficiency from the year 2000 to 2011. The results showed that the mean grain yield of wheat in 2000–2011 was 5950 kg/ha, while the N, P2O5 and K2O application rates were 172, 102 and 91 kg/ha on average, respectively. The decrease in N and P2O5 and increase in K2O balanced the nutrient supply and was the main reason for yield increase. The partial factor productivity (PFP, kg grain yield produced per unit of N, P2O5 or K2O applied) values of N (PFP-N), P (PFP-P) and K (PFP-K) were in the ranges of 29.5~39.6, 43.4~74.9 and 44.1~76.5 kg/kg, respectively. While PFP-N showed no significant changes from 2000 to 2010, both PFP-P and PFP-K showed an increased trend over this period. The mean agronomic efficiency (AE, kg grain yield increased per unit of N, P2O5 or K2O applied) values of N (AEN), P (AEP) and K (AEK) were 9.4, 10.2 and 6.5 kg/kg, respectively. The AE values demonstrated marked inter-annual fluctuations, with the amplitude of fluctuation for AEN greater than those for AEP and AEK. The mean fertilizer recovery efficiency (RE, the fraction of nutrient uptake in aboveground plant dry matter to the nutrient of fertilizer application) values of N, P and K in the aboveground biomass were 33.1%, 24.3% and 28.4%, respectively. It was also revealed that different wheat ecological regions differ greatly in wheat productivity, fertilizer application and nutrient use efficiency. In summary, it was suggested that best nutrient management practices, i.e. fertilizer recommendation applied based on soil testing or yield response, with strategies to match the nutrient input with realistic yield and demand, or provided with the 4R’s nutrient management (right time, right rate, right site and right fertilizer) should be adopted widely to improve the yield production and nutrient use efficiency.