Maize straw strip mulching as a replacement for plastic film mulching in maize production in a semiarid region

Xuemei Lan, Shouxi Chai, Jeffrey A. Coulter, Hongbo Cheng, Lei Chang, Caixia Huang, Rui Li, Yuwei Chai, Yawei Li, Jiantao Ma, Li Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Straw strip mulching in maize (Zea mays L.) production is showing a positive effect with the increasing negative effects coming from crop straw and plastic film residues. Therefore, it is imperative to develop comprehensive utilization of straw, and promote the green development of agriculture in rainfed regions. A dryland field experiment was conducted in semiarid northwestern China in 2017 and 2018 and included three treatments: maize straw strip mulching with alternating strips of mulched and non-mulched soil (MSSM), and double ridge-furrow fully mulched soil with white or black plastic film (DRWP or DRBP, respectively). The results show that the interaction between mulching treatment and year significantly influenced maize silage yield, grain yield, biomass yield, aboveground plant water content at silage maize harvest stage, ears ha-1, kernels ear-1, and thousand kernel weight (p < 0.001, p = 0.002, p < 0.001, p < 0.001, p < 0.001, p < 0.001, p < 0.001, and p < 0.001, respectively). For silage, maize growth under straw strip mulching was greater than that of the double ridge mulching system. Silage yield of MSSM was significantly higher than that of DRWP and DRBP, but maize grain and biomass yields under MSSM were significantly lower those under DRWP and DRBP in 2017 and 2018. Compared with the double ridge mulching system, net economic return from silage with MSSM was significantly increased by 28.31% and 20.85% in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and net economic return from grain was 6.67% lower in 2017 and 2.34% higher in 2018. The MSSM treatment exhibited water-temperature coupling; the MSSM treatment significantly reduced soil temperature in the 0-25 cm soil layer by 1.23-2.14 °C and increased soil water storage in the 0-200 cm soil layer by 9.75 and 24.10 mm in 2017 and 2018, respectively, thereby delaying growth development of maize by about 13 days. Therefore, straw mulch can replace plastic film mulch and serve as an environmentally friendly cultivation method for maize in semiarid rainfed regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6273
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This study was funded by the National key Research and Development program of China, Grant/Award Number: 2018YFD0200401 and National Natural Science Foundation of China, Grant/Award Number: 31760373, 31760362, 31960380.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors.


  • Double ridge-furrow system with plastic mulching
  • Dryland
  • Ecological economy benefits
  • Soil temperature
  • Straw strip mulching


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