Call for Papers: Special Issue “Nutrient management and policy in China”

This special issue welcomes review and research papers, including modelling studies and short communications, on nutrient management and policy in China.

Guest Editors:
Hou Yong1, Oene Oenema2,1 and Chen Xinping3
1) China Agricultural University, Beijing (Email:
2) Wageningen University & Research (Email:
3) Southwest University, Chongqing (Email:

Submissions of titles and abstracts of contributions to be considered for this special issue close on August 1, 2021. All contributions will be discussed during a workshop to be held in October/November 2021.

Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems is seeking submissions for a Special Issue on Nutrient management and policy in China. All contributions will first be discussed at a workshop and then peer-reviewed by 2-3 independent reviewers and handled by the Guest Editors, in collaboration with the Journal’s Editors-in-Chief. Papers accepted for publication in the Special Issue will be available online soon after acceptance, and before inclusion in the Special Issue.

Nutrient management is of crucial importance for sustainable food systems. China is a special case here, as it is the most populous country in the world, and the largest producer of cereals, vegetables, fruits, pigs, poultry, sheep and fish, and also the largest producer and user of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers. Great progress has been made with increasing crop and animal production to guarantee food security, following the great famine in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Huge changes in nutrient use and crop and animal production have taken place since then, and forecasts suggest that large further changes will take place during the next three decades, because of changes in demography, diets, technology and governmental policy. At the same time, the country has increasingly suffered from air and water pollution and biodiversity loss through especially nitrogen and phosphorus losses from food systems. Currently, there are some 200 million farmers who cultivate 166 million ha of farmland (average <1 ha per farmer), often part-time. Many smallholders also have few pigs, chicken, cattle and/or sheep in mixed crop-livestock production systems, but an increasing proportion of farm animals is kept in large confinements, which in part rely on imported soybean, maize and alfalfa. Production and resource use performances greatly differ between farms, but there is a scarcity of good farm monitoring data and in-depth farm analyses.

Objectives and scope
The main purpose of the NCA special issue on ‘Nutrient management and policy in China’ is to document the cause-effect relationships underlying the diversity and changes over time in nutrient management practices in food systems in China in a coherent manner. Special attention will be paid also to governmental policies, initially aimed at stimulating crop and animal productivity, but from 2010 increasingly focused on environmental protection and from 2018 targeted at green development of agriculture.
We invite scientists from China and abroad (preferably international collaborations) to submit manuscripts dealing with aspects of nutrient management and associated policy in China, which contribute to a better understanding of the cause-effect relationships underlying the diversity and changes over time in nutrient management practices in food systems in China. In particular, we invite well-focused manuscripts (preferably not more than 6000 to 8000 words, 8 Figures + Tables, 40 references) describing original research and novel findings. Both experimental studies, desk research and simulation studies are welcome, including one or two perspectives. Studies should cover the period from ~1960 to present, with outlook to 2050.
A two-days hybrid workshop will be organized in China (physical meeting with on-line participants) in October – November 2021 (final date to be decided) to present and discuss draft contributions. Access to this workshop is on the basis of approved abstracts (see below). We expect 20-40 participants.

The following subsections are foreseen in the special issue:
Editorial: background, agriculture and nutrient management in china, overview of the special issue, outlook

  1. Malnutrition in crops, animals and humans in China: causes, elements, incidence/severity, regional variation, remediation measures. Expected number of contributions: 2 to 3
  2. Nutrient acquisition and utilization by crops in China: soil-root and crop-environment interactions, nutrient use efficiency, nutrient losses, role of different species and cultivars, role of soil fertility.  Expected number of contributions: 2 to 3
  3. Feed use and feed nutrient utilization by pigs, poultry and cattle in livestock production in China: feed production and utilization, diet formulations, nutrient retention, nutrient excretion, nutrient use efficiency, animal varieties-climate interactions, nutrient losses in livestock production.  Expected number of contributions: 2 to 3
  4. Manure management practices in China: overview of NPK flows, NPK losses, overview of common practices, overview of treatment techniques. Expected number of contributions: 2 to 3
  5. Soil fertility and pollution in China: methods of analyses, regional variations, implications for nutrient management, remediations measures, soil erosion and nutrient leaching concerns. Expected number of contributions: 2 to 3
  6. Nutrient use efficiency and losses in the food production – processing – consumption chain: changes during the period 1960- present, scenarios for 2050. Expected number of contributions: 2 to 3
  7. Nutrients from agricultural production in air, water bodies and nature conservation areas in China: changes over time of NH3 and NOx concentrations in air, N and P concentrations in groundwaters and main water bodies, eutrophication of natural ecosystems as affected by changes in agriculture. Expected number of contributions: 2 to 3
  8. Governmental policies related to food production and nutrient use in China: policies targeted at crop production, animal production, fertilizer production and use, manure treatment, agriculture green development. Expected number of contributions: 2 to 3

The Special Issue will include approximately 15-25 manuscripts.

Planning                                                                                                         Deadline
a. Submission of title and abstract (maximal 300 words)                               01-08-2021
b. Approval of abstract by editors                                                                  15-08-2021
c. Workshop                                                                                                    Oct-Nov 2021
d. Submission of full manuscripts                                                                   31-12-2021
e. Peer-review of full manuscripts following regular journal procedure        until summer 2022
f. Publication of special issue                                                                          summer 2022

Important Submission Information

a. The submission of title and abstracts should be sent directly to the Guest Editors of this Special Issue.

b. The submission of the full manuscript should be done through the following website

c. In “Additional information”, authors must select that the article is part of a Special Issue and select the Special Issue title: “SI: Nutrient management and policy in China”.