Evaluation of a new fertilizer recommendation approach to improve nitrogen use efficiency across small-holder farms in China

Ping He1, Xinpeng Xu2, Limin Chuan3, Adrian Johnston4

1 International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) China Program, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, 12 Zhongguancun South Street, Beijing, 100081, china.ipni.net, phe@ipni.net

2Institute of Plant Nutrition and Resources, Beijing Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, Beijing, 100097

3 Institute of Information on Science and Technology, Beijing Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, Beijing, 100097

4 International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), 102-411 Downey Road, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N4L8


Low fertilizer use efficiency caused by over and imbalanced fertilization is the great challenge in intensified agricultural production systems in China. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a better nutrient management and fertilizer recommendation approach for small-holder farms in China.  This paper introduces a new fertilizer recommendation approach based on yield response and agronomic efficiency, which addresses all such concerns. The nutrient management principles were developed to consolidate the complex and knowledge intensive information into simple deliverable computer software named “Nutrient Expert” enabling local advisors rapidly implement this technology to ensure field specific guidelines for fertilizer recommendations. The software only requires information that can be easily provided by farmers or local expert. The user will get a guideline on fertilizer management (and more, such as recommended plant density, attainable yield, profit analysis, etc) that are tailored to his location and locally available fertilizer sources after answering a set of simple questions. Nutrient Expert advocates managing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship strategy adopted by the global fertilizer industry compatible with the economic, social and environmental goal of sustainable development. Multiple-site field validation demonstrated that the easily grasped new approach based on yield response and agronomic efficiency helps in strategizing appropriate management of nutrients leading to better yield, nitrogen use efficiency and environmental sustainability.