A 4-year field experiment was conducted at the Heyang Research Station in Weibei dryland to study the effects of organic fertilizer application rate on the leaf photosynthetic characteristics and grain yield of dryland maize. Comparing with applying chemical fertilizer, applying organic fertilizer increased the leaf photosynthetic rate and stomatal conductance, but decreased the leaf intercellular CO2 concentration at each growth stage of maize significantly. With the increasing application rate of organic fertilizer, the leaf photosynthetic rate and stomatal conductance at each growth stage of maize had a gradual increase, while the leaf intercellular CO2 concentration had a gradual decrease. The leaf photosynthesis of maize at each growth stage was controlled by non-stomatal factors, and the application of organic fertilizer reduced the non-stomatal limitation on the photosynthesis performance significantly. The 4-year application of organic fertilizer improved soil nutrient status, and soil nutrients were no longer the main factors limiting the leaf photosynthetic rate and grain yield of maize.