Skip to main content

Nitrogen budget data

Cite this dataset

Zou, Tan et al. (2021). Nitrogen budget data [Dataset]. Dryad.


Input-output estimates of nitrogen (N) on cropland are essential for improving N management and better understanding the global N cycle. Here, we compare 13 N budget datasets covering 115 countries and regions over 1961-2015. Though most datasets showed similar spatiotemporal patterns, some annual estimates varied widely among them, resulting in large ranges and uncertainty. In 2010, global medians (in Tg N yr-1) and associated min-max ranges were 73 (64-84) for global harvested crop N; 161 (139-192) for total N inputs; 86 (68-97) for N surplus; and 46% (40%-53%) for nitrogen use efficiency. Some of the most uncertain N budget terms by country showed ranges as large as their medians, revealing areas for improvement. A benchmark N budget dataset, derived from central tendencies of the original datasets, can be used in model comparisons and inform sustainable N management in food systems.

Usage notes

Each budget term is saved in a 13*55*115 matrix that includes 13 estimates, for a 55-year period (1961-2015), for 115 countries or regions, using a subset of those defined by FAOSTAT.

For names of 13 data sources see "Data_source_13". For names of 115 countries/regions see "Country_name_115".

Unit: area, km2; others, kg N per year.

Harvested area: areah_3d_readout

Fertilizer input: nfer_3d_readout

Manure input: nman_3d_readout

Fixation input: nfix_3d_readout

Deposition input: ndep_3d_readout

Harvested nitrogen: nyld_3d_readout

USSR represents Former Soviet Union (FSU).


National Science Foundation, Award: CNS-1739823,CNS-1739823,DEB-1049744/1547041

MINECO‐Spain and European Commission ERDF Ramón y Cajal grant