Sun,B., Zhang,L., Yang,L., Zhang,F., Norse,D. and Zhu,Z.(2012): Agricultural non-point source pollution in China: Causes and mitigation measures. AMBIO, 41, 370-379.


 Non-point source (NPS) pollution has been increasingly serious in China since the 1990s. The increases of agricultural NPS pollution in China is evaluated for the period 2000-2008 by surveying the literature on water and soil pollution from fertilizers and pesticides, and assessing the surplus nitrogen balance within provinces. The main causes for NPS pollution were excessive inputs of nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides, which were partly the result of the inadequate agricultural extension services and the rapid expansion of intensive livestock production with little of waste management. The annual application of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides in China increased by 50.7 and 119.7%, respectively, during 1991-2008. The mitigation measures to reduce NPS pollution include: correct distortion in fertilizer prices; improve incentives for the recycling of organic manure; provide farmers with better information on the sound use of agro-chemicals; and tighten the regulations and national standards on organic waste disposal and pesticides use.

keywords: Non-point source pollution; Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers; Organic manure; Agricultural policy; Mitigation strategy』

Status of non-point source pollution from crop production in China
 Water pollution from crop fertilization
 Pollution from pesticides
Reasons for non-point source pollution from crop production in China
 Huge losses of inorganic N fertilizers from cropland to surface waters
 Rapid development of intensive livestock production with limited treatment of organic wastes
 Increasing use of pesticides
Reasons for unsuitable application of fertilizer and pesticide
 The pressure for high levels of food self-sufficiency
 Inadequate agricultural extension services
Policy suggestions and mitigation measures to reduce non-point source pollution from agriculture
 Current distortion in fertilizer prices
 Provide greater incentives for recycling organic manure
 Giving farmers access to better knowledge on the sound application of agro-chemicals through promotion of farmers associations
 Other measures to provide better agricultural extension services
 Improving the implementation of national standards and legislations on organic waste discharges and pesticide use

Fig. 3 Grain production and synthetic fertilizer consumption in China from 1949 to 2008

Fig. 4 Livestock number and milk and poultry production in China from 1996 to 2008

Fig. 5 Total pesticide (formulation) application rate in China from 1991 to 2008

Fig. 6 Synthetic fertilizer application rates on vegetables in 18 provinces (municipalities) in China

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