Tillage system affects soil water and photosynthesis of plastic-mulched maize on the semiarid Loess Plateau of China

Shirley Lamptey, Lingling Li, Junhong Xie, Jeffrey A. Coulter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Water deficit is a threat to agricultural sustainability in the semiarid Loess Plateau of China due to low and variable precipitation. Technologies to improve soil water content (SWC) are necessary for sustainable intensification of maize production. The potential of plastic film mulch and reduced tillage to improve SWC has been reported for the Loess Plateau. However, there has been little research on how tillage management can be integrated with plastic mulching as an approach to improve SWC and maize photosynthesis. A 3-yr field study was conducted to investigate how tillage system influences SWC, photosynthetic performance, grain yield, and grain water use efficiency (WUEg) of plastic-mulched maize in a semiarid environment. Treatments were conventional tillage (CT), rotary tillage (RT), subsoiling (SS), and no-till (NT). Soil water content in the 0–30 cm depth with SS was 24, 31, and 13% greater at the flowering, kernel milk, and physiological maturity stages of maize phenological development, respectively, compared to CT. These improvements in SWC were associated with increased leaf water potential (17%), net assimilation rate (41%), transpiration rate (54%), and stomatal conductance (42%), and decreased intercellular CO2 concentration (15%) and stomatal limitation (20%) with SS compared to CT. Subsoiling used more water (9%) and increased grain yield by 21% compared to CT, thus enhancing WUEg by 11%. On average, reduced tillage systems had improved performance (SS > NT > RT > CT) for almost all parameters measured. These results show that SS is a viable option for increasing grain production of plastic-mulched maize in semiarid areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104479
JournalSoil and Tillage Research
Volume196
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2020

Fingerprint

subsoiling
loess
tillage
soil water content
conventional tillage
photosynthesis
plateaus
plastics
plastic
soil water
maize
plateau
corn
China
rotary tillage
water content
reduced tillage
no-tillage
grain yield
stubble tillage

Keywords

  • Conservation tillage
  • Maize, subsoiling
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plastic mulch
  • Water use efficiency

Cite this

Tillage system affects soil water and photosynthesis of plastic-mulched maize on the semiarid Loess Plateau of China. / Lamptey, Shirley; Li, Lingling; Xie, Junhong; Coulter, Jeffrey A.

In: Soil and Tillage Research, Vol. 196, 104479, 02.2020.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Water deficit is a threat to agricultural sustainability in the semiarid Loess Plateau of China due to low and variable precipitation. Technologies to improve soil water content (SWC) are necessary for sustainable intensification of maize production. The potential of plastic film mulch and reduced tillage to improve SWC has been reported for the Loess Plateau. However, there has been little research on how tillage management can be integrated with plastic mulching as an approach to improve SWC and maize photosynthesis. A 3-yr field study was conducted to investigate how tillage system influences SWC, photosynthetic performance, grain yield, and grain water use efficiency (WUEg) of plastic-mulched maize in a semiarid environment. Treatments were conventional tillage (CT), rotary tillage (RT), subsoiling (SS), and no-till (NT). Soil water content in the 0–30 cm depth with SS was 24, 31, and 13{\%} greater at the flowering, kernel milk, and physiological maturity stages of maize phenological development, respectively, compared to CT. These improvements in SWC were associated with increased leaf water potential (17{\%}), net assimilation rate (41{\%}), transpiration rate (54{\%}), and stomatal conductance (42{\%}), and decreased intercellular CO2 concentration (15{\%}) and stomatal limitation (20{\%}) with SS compared to CT. Subsoiling used more water (9{\%}) and increased grain yield by 21{\%} compared to CT, thus enhancing WUEg by 11{\%}. On average, reduced tillage systems had improved performance (SS > NT > RT > CT) for almost all parameters measured. These results show that SS is a viable option for increasing grain production of plastic-mulched maize in semiarid areas.",
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AB - Water deficit is a threat to agricultural sustainability in the semiarid Loess Plateau of China due to low and variable precipitation. Technologies to improve soil water content (SWC) are necessary for sustainable intensification of maize production. The potential of plastic film mulch and reduced tillage to improve SWC has been reported for the Loess Plateau. However, there has been little research on how tillage management can be integrated with plastic mulching as an approach to improve SWC and maize photosynthesis. A 3-yr field study was conducted to investigate how tillage system influences SWC, photosynthetic performance, grain yield, and grain water use efficiency (WUEg) of plastic-mulched maize in a semiarid environment. Treatments were conventional tillage (CT), rotary tillage (RT), subsoiling (SS), and no-till (NT). Soil water content in the 0–30 cm depth with SS was 24, 31, and 13% greater at the flowering, kernel milk, and physiological maturity stages of maize phenological development, respectively, compared to CT. These improvements in SWC were associated with increased leaf water potential (17%), net assimilation rate (41%), transpiration rate (54%), and stomatal conductance (42%), and decreased intercellular CO2 concentration (15%) and stomatal limitation (20%) with SS compared to CT. Subsoiling used more water (9%) and increased grain yield by 21% compared to CT, thus enhancing WUEg by 11%. On average, reduced tillage systems had improved performance (SS > NT > RT > CT) for almost all parameters measured. These results show that SS is a viable option for increasing grain production of plastic-mulched maize in semiarid areas.

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