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Open AccessArticle

Spatial Characteristics and Implications of Grey Water Footprint of Major Food Crops in China

1
State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing 100038, China
2
Department of Water Resources, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing 100038, China
3
Division of Personnel, Labor and Education, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing 100038, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(2), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020220
Received: 27 December 2018 / Revised: 24 January 2019 / Accepted: 24 January 2019 / Published: 28 January 2019
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Abstract

The estimated, effective increase of agricultural fertilizer applied in China by 10.57 Mts from 2006 to 2016 is a crucial factor affecting the water environment. Based on analyzing the nitrate-leaching rate, the nitrogen-fertilizer application rate, and crop yield in wheat and maize key cultivation divisions in China, this paper applied the grey water footprint analytical method to estimate THE grey water footprint and its proportion to total water footprint and analyzed the spatial differences from 2012 to 2016. Results showed that the grey water footprint of wheat was higher in North and Northwest China with an increasing trend, while that of maize was higher in Southwest and Northwest China because of high nitrogen application rates and low yields in these regions. Except for the Southwestern division, wheat’s grey water footprint was about 1.3 times higher than the blue water footprint, while, for maize, it was two to three times higher. When analyzing and planning water demand for crop irrigation, the water required for nonpoint source pollution due to chemical fertilizers should be considered. Focusing blue water (irrigation) alone, while neglecting green water and ignoring grey water footprints, it might lead to overestimation of available agricultural water resources and failure to meet the goals of sustainable use of water resources. View Full-Text
Keywords: grey water footprint; food crops; nitrogen application rate; nitrate-nitrogen leaching rate grey water footprint; food crops; nitrogen application rate; nitrate-nitrogen leaching rate
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Wang, L.; Zhang, Y.; Jia, L.; Yang, G.; Yao, Y.; Wang, W. Spatial Characteristics and Implications of Grey Water Footprint of Major Food Crops in China. Water 2019, 11, 220.

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