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Earth System Science Data The Data Publishing Journal
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2017-132
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
 
18 Dec 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).
Historical Nitrogen Fertilizer Use in Agricultural Ecosystem of the Continental United States during 1850–2015: Application rate, Timing, and Fertilizer Types
Peiyu Cao, Chaoqun Lu, and Zhen Yu Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA
Abstract. Tremendous amount of anthropogenic nitrogen (N) fertilizer has been applied to agricultural lands to promote the crop production in the United States since the 1850s. However, inappropriate N management practices caused numerous ecological and environmental problems which are difficult to quantify due to paucity of historically spatially explicit fertilizer use maps. Understanding and assessing N fertilizer management history could provide essential implications for enhancing N use efficiency (NUE) and reducing N loss. In this study, we therefore developed long-term gridded maps depicting crop-specific N fertilizer use rate, timing, and fraction of ammonium N (NH4+-N) and nitrate N (NO3-N) across the contiguous U.S at a resolution of 5 km × 5 km during 1850–2015. We found that N use rates of the U.S. increased from 0.28 g N m−2 yr−1 in 1940 to 9.54 g N m−2 yr−1 in 2015. Geospatial analysis revealed that the hotspots of N fertilizer use have shifted from the southeastern and eastern U.S. to the Midwest and the Great Plains during the past century. Specifically, corn of the Corn Belt region received the most intensive N input in spring, followed by large N application amount in fall, implying a high N loss risk in this region. Moreover, spatial-temporal fraction of NH4+-N and NO3-N varied largely among regions. Generally, farmers have increasingly favored NH4+-N form fertilizers over NO3-N fertilizers since the 1940s. The N fertilizer use data developed in this study could serve as an essential input for modeling communities to fully assess the N addition impacts, and improve N management to alleviate environmental problems. Datasets available at https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.883585.

Citation: Cao, P., Lu, C., and Yu, Z.: Historical Nitrogen Fertilizer Use in Agricultural Ecosystem of the Continental United States during 1850–2015: Application rate, Timing, and Fertilizer Types, Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2017-132, in review, 2017.
Peiyu Cao et al.
Peiyu Cao et al.

Data sets

Agricultural nitrogen fertilizer uses in the continental U.S. during 1850-2015: a set of gridded time-series data
P. Cao, C. Lu, and Z. Yu
https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.883585
Peiyu Cao et al.

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Short summary
A long-term N fertilizer use history is important for both field investigators and modeling community to examine the cumulative impacts of N fertilizer uses. We developed a spatially explicit time-series data set of nitrogen fertilizer use in agricultural land of the continental U.S. during 1850–2015 at a resolution of 5 km × 5 km based on multiple data sources and historical cropland maps. It contains nitrogen fertilizer use rate, application timing, and ammonium and nitrate form fertilizers use.
A long-term N fertilizer use history is important for both field investigators and modeling...
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