Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2022-263
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2022-263
 
22 Aug 2022
22 Aug 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Historical nitrogen fertilizers use in China from 1952 to 2018

Zhen Yu1,2, Jing Liu2, and Giri Kattel3,4,5 Zhen Yu et al.
  • 1Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters (CIC-FEMD), Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing, China 210044
  • 2Institute of Ecology, School of Applied Meteorology, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, 210044, China
  • 3School of Geographical Sciences, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing, China
  • 4Department of Infrastructure Engineering, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Melbourne, Australia
  • 5Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

Abstract. China ranks the highest position on the nitrogen (N) fertilizers consumption in the world. Although the N fertilizers use has greatly contributed to the China’s food production, this has also caused unprecedented alteration in the biogeochemical cycles and endangered terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Existing use of N fertilizers in China as shown by digital maps are usually coarse in resolution, and intermittently covered with biasedly gridded dataset. Here, we have reconstructed a historical, annual N fertilizers use dataset in China at 5 km × 5 km resolution covering the period of 1952 to 2018 by integrating improved cropland maps. Results showed that the most of the N input was directly applied as N-only fertilizer, while the contribution from compound fertilizers ranged between 16 % and 24 % since 1980. The national total N fertilizers input increased from 0.06 Tg N yr-1 (0.05 g N m-2 yr-1) in 1952 to 31.15 Tg N yr-1 (18.83 g N m-2 yr-1) in 2014, then decreased to 28.31 Tg N yr-1 (17.06 g N m-2 yr-1) in 2018. Despite the total N input decreased by 9.1 % (2.84 Tg N yr-1) from 2014 to 2018, the N input from compound fertilizers increased by 6 % (0.43 Tg N yr-1) during the corresponding period. The previous FAO-data-based N fertilizer products in China overestimated the N use in low, but underestimated in high cropland coverage areas. However, our newly reconstructed data have not only corrected the existing biases and improved the spatial distribution but also showed vegetable and other crops (orchards), but not grain crops, are the most intensively fertilized crops in China, implying the importance of quantifying greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from these croplands. We argue that the reconstructed, spatially-explicit N fertilizers use data in this study are expected to contribute to better understanding in biogeochemical cycles including the simulations of GHG emission and food production in China. The cropland dataset is available via an open-data repository (https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.20402490.v1) (Yu, 2022).

Zhen Yu et al.

Status: open (until 17 Oct 2022)

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Zhen Yu et al.

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Nitrogen fertilizer use in China from 1952 to 2018 Zhen Yu https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.20402490.v1

Zhen Yu et al.

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Short summary
We developed a dataset describing nitrogen (N) fertilizers use in China at 5 km × 5 km resolution from 1952 to 2018. Results showed the total N fertilizers use in China has increased by over 47 times from 1952 to 2018. Besides, vegetables and orchards are the most intensively fertilized crops. The newly developed dataset is advantaged over existing products in depicting N fertilizers use in China. This dataset will benefit simulations of greenhouse gas emission and food production in China.