Intensifying a semiarid wheat monocropping with forage rape as a replacement to fallow period in China

Jianqiang Deng, Zhixin Zhang, Hong Ni, Xingfa Lai, Samaila Usman, Qian Yang, Xianlong Yang, Jeffrey A. Coulter, Yuying Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The traditional cropping system on the Loess Plateau of China is winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L., W) monocropping. However, this cropping system, with a 3-mo summer fallow (F) period, has exhibited low radiation and precipitation use efficiency. The objectives of this study conducted in 2016–2018 was to investigate system productivity and resource (i.e., water and radiation) use efficiency when winter wheat monocropping was intensified by planting forage rape (Brassica napus L., R) during the summer fallow period. Dry matter yield (DM), water use efficiency (WUE), and radiation use efficiency (RUE) of forage rape and winter wheat in F-W and R-W crop rotations were determined. The results show that forage rape did not change system DM in all years, and winter wheat grain yield as well as DM in 2018, but decreased winter wheat grain yield and DM by 17 and 16% in 2017, respectively. Forage rape increased the system average water use (WU) by 20%, whereas system WUE of DM (WUEDM) was unaffected in both years. Forage rape also improved system intercepted photosynthetically active radiation (IPAR) by 39% but did not alter winter wheat IPAR in both years. In 2017, intensification with forage rape decreased winter wheat RUEDM and RUE of grain (RUEGrain). In conclusion, crop productivity was mainly related to water availability during sowing and the growing season, whereas RUE was related to crop productivity. Therefore, soil water supply needs to be considered before sowing forage rape during the summer fallow in the semiarid region of China as examined in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1400-1413
Number of pages14
JournalCrop Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 12 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31872416), the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University (IRT17R50), and the Program for Gansu Provincial Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Department Key Technology Research Program on crop–annual forage rotation systems on the Longdong Loess Plateau (160230). The authors are grateful to Mr. Juncheng Li and Ms. Zhiting Liang for their contributions to field data collection. The authors would also like to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions, which substantially improved the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Crop Science © 2020 Crop Science Society of America


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