Progress on improving agricultural nitrogen use efficiency: UK-China virtual joint centers on nitrogen agronomy

Tom Misselbrook (Lead Author), Zhaohai Bai, Zejiang Cai, Weidong Cao, Alison Carswell, Nicholas Cowan, Zhenling Cui, David Chadwick, Bridget Emmett, Keith Goulding, Rui Jiang, Davey Jones, Xiaotang Ju, Hongbin Liu, Yuelai Lu, Lin Ma, David Powlson, Robert Rees, Ute Skiba, Pete SmithRoger Sylvester-Bradley, John Williams, Lianhai Wu, Minggang Xu, Wen Xu, Fusuo Zhang, Junling Zhang, Jianbin Zhou, Xuejun Liu

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Two virtual joint centers for nitrogen agronomy were established between the UK and China to facilitate collaborative research aimed at improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in agricultural production systems and reducing losses of reactive N to the environment. Major focus areas were improving fertilizer NUE, use of livestock manures, soil health, and policy development and knowledge exchange. Improvements to fertilizer NUE included attention to application rate in the context of yield potential and economic considerations and the potential of improved practices including enhanced efficiency fertilizers, plastic film mulching and cropping design. Improved utilization of livestock manures requires knowledge of the available nutrient content, appropriate manure processing technologies and integrated nutrient management practices. Soil carbon, acidification and biodiversity were considered as important aspects of soil health. Both centers identified a range of potential actions that could be taken to improve N management, and the research conducted has highlighted the importance of developing a systems-level approach to assessing improvement in the overall efficiency of N management and avoiding unintended secondary effects from individual interventions. Within this context, the management of fertilizer emissions and livestock manure at the farm and regional scales appear to be particularly important targets for mitigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-489
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • CINAg
  • nitrogen use efficiency
  • reactive nitrogen
  • sustainable production

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