Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2022, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (1): 65-78.doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1936-2

Previous Articles     Next Articles

Chemical fertilizer rate, use efficiency and reduction of cereal crops in China, 1998-2018

XIN Liangjie()   

  1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2020-11-05 Accepted:2021-08-10 Online:2022-01-25 Published:2022-03-25
  • About author:Xin Liangjie (1979-), PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in land use change and its effects. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program(2019QZKK0603);Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA20040000);Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA20090000)


This paper studied the fertilizer rate (FR), fertilizer use efficiency (FUE) and fertilizer overuse rate (FOR) of rice, corn and wheat in China from 1998 to 2018 and briefly analysed the reasons why farmers were willing to apply more fertilizers. (1) The FR of grain in China reached 373.7 kg/ha in 2018, an increase of 26.8% compared to that in 1998. In 2018, the FR for corn was the highest, at 411.2 kg/ha, compared to the values of 338.3 kg/ha for rice and 371.7 kg/ha for wheat. (2) In recent years, the FUE of grain in China has obviously improved, with values of 32.9% in 1998, 36.7% in 2008, and 39.3% in 2018. In 2018, the FUE for rice was the highest (41.2%), followed by that for corn (39.9%), and the FUE for wheat was the lowest (36.0%). (3) By 2018, fertilizer was overused in all zones of rice, corn and wheat. In 2018, the average FOR for wheat reached 69.0%, which was 35.9% higher than that for corn and 42.8% higher than that for rice. (4) The lower price of chemical fertilizers was the main reason leading to overapplication. (5) Establishing market mechanisms and adjusting regional planting structures can be effective in reducing the application of chemical fertilizers.

Key words: fertilizer rate (FR), fertilizer use efficiency (FUE), fertilizer overuse rate (FOR), China, 1998-2018, three main grain crops