Technological watch

Potential Reductions in the Environmental Impacts of Agricultural Production in Hubei Province, China

Quantifying potential reductions in environmental impacts for multi-crop agricultural production is important for the development of environmentally friendly agricultural systems. To analyze the spatial differences in the potential reduction in nitrogen (N) use, we provided a framework that comprehensively assesses the potential of improving N use efficiency (NUE) and mitigating environmental impacts in Hubei Province, China, for multiple crops including rice, wheat, maize, tea, fruits, and vegetables, by considering N and its environmental indicators. This framework considers various sources such as organic N fertilizers and synthetic fertilizers, along with their respective environmental indicators. We designed different scenarios assuming varying degrees of improvement in the NUE for cities with a low NUE. By calculating the N rate, N surplus, N leaching, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under different scenarios, we quantified the environmental mitigation potential of each crop during the production process. The results showed that when the NUE of each crop reached the average level in Hubei Province, the improvement in environmental emissions is favorable compared to other scenarios. The N rate, N surplus, N leaching, and GHG emissions of grain (cash) crops could be reduced by 25.87% (41.26%), 36.07% (38.90%), 49.47% (36.14%), and 51.52% (41.67%), respectively. Overall, improving the NUE in cash crops will result in a greater proportionate reduction in environmental impacts than that in grain crops, but grain crops will reduce the total amount of GHG emissions. Our method provides a robust measure to assess the reduction potential of N pollution and GHG emissions in multi-crop production systems.

Publication date: 07/03/2024

Author: Penghui Wang

Reference: doi: 10.3390/agriculture14030439



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.