Modeling of water and nitrogen utilization of layered soil profiles under a wheat-maize cropping system.

He, Y., Hu, K.L., Wang, H., Li, B.G., Huang, Y.F., Chen, D.L., and Li, Y. (2013). "Modeling of water and nitrogen utilization of layered soil profiles under a wheat-maize cropping system.", Mathematical and Computer Modelling, 58(3-4), pp. 596-605. doi : 10.1016/j.mcm.2011.10.060  Access to full text


Understanding water and nutrient utilization in agricultural layered soil is very important for the improvement of agricultural management and protection of the environment. The objective of this paper is to determine the effect of layered soil profiles on crop yield and water and fertilizer nitrogen (N) utilization. Firstly a water and nitrogen management model (WNMM) was calibrated and validated under a wheat-maize cropping system in an alluvial plain using published data of two soil profiles (named A and B). The results showed that the model can be used to simulate the water movement and N transport, as well as crop growth in the study area. Then, another three very different soil profiles (named C, D and E) near to profiles A and B were studied. The profile C had a silt loam-clay profile; the profile D had a silty loam-clay-silt profile and the profile E had a clay-silty loam-silt profile. The soil hydraulic parameters of these profiles were obtained by pedo-transfer functions using measured soil properties. Given the same initial conditions and field management practices, the WNMM was then used to simulate water and Nitrogen balance and crop yield for the three profiles. Simulated results showed that the profiles (C, D and E) have similar water and fertilizer N use efficiencies (WUE, FNUE), while the crop yields of profiles C and D were higher than that of the profile E. Compared with profiles D and E, the profile C has least water drainage (127 mm) and total N loss (117 kg N ha-1). We concluded that layering of soil profiles has a strong effect on water and fertilizer N utilization and crop yield. Such an effect of layered property of soil profiles, therefore, needs to be taken into account in precision agriculture related research.

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