Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2012, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (4): 643-652.doi: 10.1007/s11442-012-0953-y

• Ecology and Environment • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Temporal and regional variations of China’s fertilizer consumption by crops during 1998-2008

XIN Liangjie, LI Xiubin, TAN Minghong   

  1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2011-09-19 Revised:2012-01-12 Online:2012-08-15 Published:2012-07-10
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 40971062; National Basic Research Program of China, No.2010CB950902; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41101085; No.41171079


The agricultural and land policies in China are always focused on protecting its food supply and security because of the country’s large population and improved diets. The crop production guide ‘Take Grain as the Key Link’ prompted peasants to plant grain on most of the agricultural land, leading to the majority of fertilizer being used in grain crops for many years in China. This situation has changed dramatically in recent years. Based on data pertaining to provincial crops sown area and fertilizer use per unit area in 1998 and 2008, the temporal and spatial variations of China’s fertilizer consumption by crops were analyzed at the provincial level, and the results are presented here. (1) Fertilizer consumption in China grew strongly in the last decade, while the growth was mainly attributable to the increase of fertilizer consumption by horticultural crops. The fertilizer consumption of grain crops dropped from 71.0% in 1998 to 57.8% in 2008. Thus, it is concluded that the emphasis of fertilizer consumption is shifting toward horticultural crops. (2) There were marked differences in the growth rates of fertilizer consumption from the regional point of view. The national average growth rate of fertilizer consumption was 31.9% during 1998-2008. The western and northeastern parts of the country came close to the national average, while the eastern part was lower, with an average of 13.0%, and central China was much higher (50.8%). The increase of fertilizer consumption in central and west China was higher than the other zones, which already accounted for 77.9% of the national total. Thus, it is concluded that the consumption emphasis of chemical fertilizer shifts toward the central and western regions. (3) The decline of fertilizer consumption by grain crops was largely due to the decrease in sown area compared with the increase by vegetable crops attributable to the enlarging sown area; the increase by orchard crops was affected by both expanding the sown area and fertilizer use per unit area.

Key words: fertilizer consumption, by crops, temporal and regional variations, China