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Approaches to achieve high grain yield and high resource use efficiency in rice

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      Abstract

      This article discusses approaches to simultaneously increase grain yield and resource use efficiency in rice. Breeding nitrogen efficient cultivars without sacrificing rice yield potential, improving grain fill in later-flowering inferior spikelets and enhancing harvest index are three important approaches to achieving the dual goal of high grain yield and high resource use efficiency. Deeper root distribution and higher leaf photosynthetic N use efficiency at lower N rates could be used as selection criteria to develop N-efficient cultivars. Enhancing sink activity through increasing sugar-spikelet ratio at the heading time and enhancing the conversion efficiency from sucrose to starch though increasing the ratio of abscisic acid to ethylene in grains during grain fill could effectively improve grain fill in inferior spikelets. Several practices, such as post-anthesis controlled soil drying, an alternate wetting and moderate soil drying regime during the whole growing season, and non-flooded straw mulching cultivation, could substantially increase grain yield and water use efficiency, mainly via enhanced remobilization of stored carbon from vegetative tissues to grains and improved harvest index. Further research is needed to understand synergistic interaction between water and N on crop and soil and the mechanism underlying high resource use efficiency in high-yielding rice.

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      Significant acidification in major Chinese croplands.

      Soil acidification is a major problem in soils of intensive Chinese agricultural systems. We used two nationwide surveys, paired comparisons in numerous individual sites, and several long-term monitoring-field data sets to evaluate changes in soil acidity. Soil pH declined significantly (P < 0.001) from the 1980s to the 2000s in the major Chinese crop-production areas. Processes related to nitrogen cycling released 20 to 221 kilomoles of hydrogen ion (H+) per hectare per year, and base cations uptake contributed a further 15 to 20 kilomoles of H+ per hectare per year to soil acidification in four widespread cropping systems. In comparison, acid deposition (0.4 to 2.0 kilomoles of H+ per hectare per year) made a small contribution to the acidification of agricultural soils across China.
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        Ecological intensification of cereal production systems: yield potential, soil quality, and precision agriculture.

        Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), rice (Oryza sativa L.), and maize (Zea mays L.) provide about two-thirds of all energy in human diets, and four major cropping systems in which these cereals are grown represent the foundation of human food supply. Yield per unit time and land has increased markedly during the past 30 years in these systems, a result of intensified crop management involving improved germplasm, greater inputs of fertilizer, production of two or more crops per year on the same piece of land, and irrigation. Meeting future food demand while minimizing expansion of cultivated area primarily will depend on continued intensification of these same four systems. The manner in which further intensification is achieved, however, will differ markedly from the past because the exploitable gap between average farm yields and genetic yield potential is closing. At present, the rate of increase in yield potential is much less than the expected increase in demand. Hence, average farm yields must reach 70-80% of the yield potential ceiling within 30 years in each of these major cereal systems. Achieving consistent production at these high levels without causing environmental damage requires improvements in soil quality and precise management of all production factors in time and space. The scope of the scientific challenge related to these objectives is discussed. It is concluded that major scientific breakthroughs must occur in basic plant physiology, ecophysiology, agroecology, and soil science to achieve the ecological intensification that is needed to meet the expected increase in food demand.
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          Agroecosystems, nitrogen-use efficiency, and nitrogen management.

          The global challenge of meeting increased food demand and protecting environmental quality will be won or lost in cropping systems that produce maize, rice, and wheat. Achieving synchrony between N supply and crop demand without excess or deficiency is the key to optimizing trade-offs amongst yield, profit, and environmental protection in both large-scale systems in developed countries and small-scale systems in developing countries. Setting the research agenda and developing effective policies to meet this challenge requires quantitative understanding of current levels of N-use efficiency and losses in these systems, the biophysical controls on these factors, and the economic returns from adoption of improved management practices. Although advances in basic biology, ecology, and biogeochemistry can provide answers, the magnitude of the scientific challenge should not be underestimated because it becomes increasingly difficult to control the fate of N in cropping systems that must sustain yield increases on the world's limited supply of productive farm land.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Physiology/Co-Innovation Center for Modern Production Technology of Grain Crops, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225009, China
            Author notes
            jcyang@yzu.edu.cn
            Contributors
            Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Physiology/Co-Innovation Center for Modern Production Technology of Grain Crops, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225009, China
            Journal
            Front. Agr. Sci. Eng.
            FASE
            CN10-1204/S
            Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering
            Higher Education Press (4 Huixin Dongjie, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100029, China)
            2095-7505
            2015
            : 2
            : 2
            : 115-123
            10.15302/J-FASE-2015055

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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