09 Oct 2012

About Northwest Region

Regional Background

China’s Northwest (NW) region belongs to an arid/semiarid region with an annual rainfall of 200 to 400 mm or less. More than 50% of crop land in NW provinces except Xinjiang is rainfed. About 32%-81% crop land area is effectively irrigated and 28%-70% of irrigated area is water-saving irrigation. For example, dripping irrigation in Xinjiang is about 70% of irrigated area, especially for cotton and processing tomato, water saving irrigation in Inner Mongolia is 64% of irrigated area. In Gansu province many practices have been undertaken to make full use of rainfall such as plastic-mulched wheat/corn, plastic-mulched ridges and supplied with water from the furrow rainfall harvesting (PRFRH) system in potato production etc. Although the nature conditions such as sufficient sunlight, great temperature difference between day and night give a great potential for high crop yield, lack of moisture in the soil makes it a challenge to support adequate seedling growth in most spring seasons and generally restricts agricultural production in the region.

There are many kinds of crops in NW. The main cereal crops are corn and wheat. The main cash crops are potato, cotton and fruits. Northwest region contributes only about 10% of total grain production in China, but is the main producing region for potato, cotton, processing tomato, apple, kiwifruit and grapes. At present, the area and production of potato is about 40% of the total in China, mainly planted in Inner Mongolia and Gansu provinces. Cotton area and production in Xinjiang province is, respectively, more than 30% and 40% of the total in China. Both area and production of apple in Shaanxi province account for more than 30% in China. Kiwi area and production in Shaanxi province is 37% and 52% of the total in China. About 23% of grapes in China were produced in Xinjiang province.

Currently, total NPK fertilizer consumption in the NW is 6.22 million tons, 11.5% of the total in China. The average application rate of NPK in crops is 290 kg/ha, lower than the average of 340 kg/ha in China. Gansu and Qinghai has even low rate of NPK in crops, 210 kg/ha and 155 kg/ha, respectively.

Major crops in Northwest China
Provinces Crops Acreage, ×1000 haAverage yield, kg/haTotal production, ×10000 tAcreage, ×1000 haAverage yield, kg/haTotal production, ×10000 tAcreage, ×1000 haAverage yield, kg/haTotal production, ×10000 t
Inner Maize 1298.24847629.21805.8590410662451.254721341.3
MongoliaWheat 617.12946181.8460.63118144528.23241171.2
Potato 646.414185917.0553.413590750.0663.811840786.0
Sunflower 363.4190169.1355.7239885.3402.2223990.0
Rapeseed 295103330.5255.7110928.3218.9102222.4
Soybean 793.9108185.8797.01642131.0840.21362114.4
ShaanxiMaize 10573914413.71097.14190460.01164.04520526.1
Wheat 1537.22723418.61211.53312401.01146.03343383.1
Potato 304.611835360.5239.16210150.0260.010615276.0
Apple 395.59826388.6426.313139560.1564.914254805.2
Kiwi 15.8822813.016.11495624.038.31305150.0
Gansu Maize 464.44533210.5484.85126249.0657.84752312.6
Wheat 1192.22232266.11000.82646265.0963.92709261.1
Potato 417.112585525.0531.117870950.0643.614870957.0
Apple 167.6412369.1183.85509101.2261.67095185.6
Qinghai Wheat 165.6265143.996.8406039.0104.1374939.0
Potato 46.31609074.575.321515160.086.722100191.5
Rapeseed 185.5102919.1159.7197731.6170.3212636.2
Ningxia Rice 76.7813662.471.3856961.078.2825064.6
Maize 131.1625582.0178.36809121.0215.17271156.4
Wheat 292.6254674.5276.0287779.0218.5336773.6
Potato 76.21155088.0117.311720140.0217.68975195.5
Xinjiang Maize 382.47021268.5526.17160377.0598.46741403.4
Wheat 838.84763399.5737.25374396.01153.95435627.2
Cotton 1012.31438145.61160.51615187.41409.31791252.4
Grape 59.11156768.396.213385128.8114.716845193.2
Processing tomato22.162983139.149.473005360.769.578458545.3

Fertilizer consumption in each province of Northwest China (×10000 t)
Year NutrientsInner MongoliaShaanxi Gansu Qinghai Ningxia Xinjiang
Compound 14.433.
Compound 26.643.
Compound 49.143.523.33.012.834.2

Major Plant Nutrition Issues in the Region

    1. In addition to chemical fertilizer application, nutrient NPK applied by organic fertilizer accounted for 42% of total NPK input through chemical and organic fertilizers. Thus, N and P was estimated to be an average of 60 kg N/ha and 56 kg P2O5/ha surplus in agricultural system, while potassium was in balance.
    2. Nutrient use efficiency has been restricted by water shortage and unbalanced use of fertilizers.
    3. How to manage nutrient application under different water regimes such as irrigation methods and rain collecting systems is a big challenge.
    4. Potassium management for high K-demanding crops such as apple, kiwi, potato and processing tomato for improving yield and quality.

Current Program Activities and Major Outcomes Expected

Current Program Activities:
    1. Nutrient management and balanced fertilization for major crops in NW region, mainly focus on omission plots trials, balanced fertilization demonstrations, nutrient & water interactions.
    2. Effect of long-term application of potash and straw return on wheat yield and soil K balance in Qinghai province
      The 19 years long-term experiment was continued to monitor K balance in spring wheat system.
    3. Agronomic evaluation of control release urea (CRU) in irrigated potato in Inner Mongolia
      Comparing yield and benefit of CRU rates with regular urea in irrigated potato for three years
    4. Best management practice of potassium for apple, potato, processing tomato and cotton
        1) Potassium management in apple production in Shaanxi province, mainly focuses on rate and time of K application as well as K balance for typical apple orchard
        2) Effect of potassium management on lint yield and quality of cotton in Xinjiang province, mainly focuses on lint quality as influenced by soil K, rate and time of K application
        3) Best management practice of potassium for potato production in Inner Mongolia and Gansu provinces, mainly concentrates on tuber quality as affected by rate, time and source of K under irrigation, and K balance.
        4) Potassium management for improving processing tomato quality in Xinjiang province, mainly focuses on the effect of rate, time and source of K application on tomato quality.
Major Outcomes Expected:
    1. Yield response and economic return of balanced fertilization in main crops in NW region
    2. Nutrient management practices for specific crops under water saving irrigation systems.
    3. Soil K balance in long-term application of potash and straw return in spring wheat system
    4. Compared with regular CRU can reduced N rate and improve N use efficiency in irrigated potato
    5. Product quality of crops such as apple, potato, cotton and processing tomato can be improved by appropriate source, rate and time of K application.
    6. Potassium balance in the cropping systems of apple, cotton, potato, and processing tomato.
    7. Best nutrient management practices for major crops in NW, improving nutrient use efficiency.

Future Planned Activities and Expected Outcomes

Future Planned Activities

    1. Continue balanced fertilization and demonstration program for major crops in main provinces.
    2. Further research on source, rate, time and place of N, P and K fertilizer application in different crops under irrigation and rain collecting systems, like control release N fertilizer application in plastic mulch covered crops under rainfed conditions, fertigation techniques in drip irrigation systems.
    3. Study nutrient uptake and accumulation in different growing stages of main crops under specific water management, for example, drip-irrigated cotton and processing tomato in Xinjiang, irrigated potato in Inner Mongolia, apple in Shaanxi.
    4. Educational activities such as farmer training, field harvest day, inspection for leaders, publications of technical paper in Better Crops and Better Crops China.
    Expected Outcomes:

      1. Crop response and economic returns to recommended/balanced fertilization and the limiting factors that restrict crop yield and quality.
      2. The principals of N, P, K requirements of main advantage crops specific water management for determining right rate and time of nutrient application.
      3. Best nutrient management practices for each of advantage crops, improving crop yield/quality, increase farmer’s income and nutrient/water use efficiency.

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