Publications

Enhancing sustainable potato production—a case study in northern china

Wang, Na; Reidsma, Pytrik; Wang, Ziquan; Zhou, Xiaohan; Kempenaar, Corné; Lv, Dianqiu; Ittersum, Martin K. van

Summary

Potato is the fourth most important staple crop in China. To meet the increased demand and environmental objectives, potato production should be enhanced by sustainable practices that aim to maximize yield and resource use efficiencies and minimize environmental impacts. Most experiments so far have taken place on experimental stations, while on-farm experimentation is needed to evaluate, demonstrate and scale more sustainable practices. On-farm field experiments were conducted in two years (2017, 2018) in northern China to investigate and demonstrate the effects of different nitrogen (N) fertiliser and irrigation input levels on potato yield, quality, resource use efficiency and environmental impacts. The 2017 experimental results on one farmer’s field showed that under irrigated conditions, adding N fertiliser (from 0 to 267 kg ha−1) did not increase yield due to the high soil N supply, rather it reduced tuber quality. The 2018 experimental results, in which four additional farmers were involved, indicated that, under irrigated conditions, reducing N fertiliser from the current rates (189–252 kg ha−1) to lower levels (109–181 kg ha−1) did not affect yield nor quality; while further reducing N fertiliser inputs (to 9–117 kg ha−1) resulted in a yield reduction (18% on average) in some fields. In both years, irrigation improved tuber yield and quality compared to that under rainfed conditions. The nitrogen use efficiency was improved and N surplus was reduced by applying irrigation and reducing N fertiliser input. Farmers expressed they were willing to reduce N fertiliser input by 10–20%, and indicated that a widespread adaptation of drip irrigation is hindered by the high costs and labor requirements. Site-specific recommendations on optimum N fertiliser and irrigation management must be provided, which should preferably be based on regular quantitative monitoring of soil N supply and soil moisture content.