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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2018, Vol. 17 Issue (11): 2558-2569    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(18)61986-0
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Alternate row mulching optimizes soil temperature and water conditions and improves wheat yield in dryland farming
YAN Qiu-yan1, DONG Fei1, LOU Ge2, YANG Feng1, LU Jin-xiu1, LI Feng1, ZHANG Jian-cheng1, LI Jun-hui3, DUAN Zeng-qiang4 
1 Institute of Wheat Research, Shanxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Linfen 041000, P.R.China
2 Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, Columbia University, New York 10027, USA
3 Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine 92697, USA
4 State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, P.R.China
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Straw mulching allows for effective water storage in dryland wheat production.  Finding a suitable straw mulching model that facilitates wheat growth was the objective of this study.  A 2-year field experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of two straw mulching patterns (FM, full coverage within all the rows; HM, half coverage within alternate rows) and two mulching rates (4.5 and 9.0 t ha–1) on soil moisture, soil temperature, grain yield, and water use efficiency (WUE) of winter wheat in northern China, with no mulching (M0) as the control.  Results showed that mulching increased the soil water storage in all growth stages under high mulching rates, with a stronger effect in later growth stages.  Water storage under the HM model was greater in later stages than under the FM model.  Soil water content of HM groups was higher than that of FM groups, especially in surface soil layers.  Evapotranspiration decreased in mulched groups and was higher under high mulching rates.  Aboveground biomass during each growth stage under the HM model was higher than that under M0 and FM models with the same mulched rate, leading to a relatively higher grain yield under the HM model.  Mulching increased WUE, a trend that was more obvious under HM9.0 treatment.  Warming effect of soil temperature under the HM pattern persisted longer than under the FM model with the same mulching rates.  Accumulated soil temperature under mulched treatments increased, and the period of negative soil temperature decreased by 9–12 days under FM and by 10–20 days under HM.  Thus, the HM pattern with 9.0 t ha–1 mulching rate is beneficial for both soil temperature and water content management and can contribute to high yields and high WUE for wheat production in China. 
Keywords:  mulching pattern        winter wheat        soil temperature        grain yield        water use efficiency  
Received: 08 September 2017   Accepted:
Fund: This work was financially supported by the Key Research and Development Program of Shanxi Province, China (201703D211002-5) and the Open Fund of the State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Y20160019).
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence ZHANG Jian-cheng, Tel/Fax: +86-357-2884659, E-mail:; DONG Fei, Tel/Fax: +86-357-2882060, E-mail:   
About author:  YAN Qiu-yan, Mobile: +86-18734771960, E-mail: sxnkyyqy;

Cite this article: 

YAN Qiu-yan, DONG Fei, LOU Ge, YANG Feng, LU Jin-xiu, LI Feng, ZHANG Jian-cheng, LI Jun-hui, DUAN Zeng-qiang. 2018. Alternate row mulching optimizes soil temperature and water conditions and improves wheat yield in dryland farming. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 17(11): 2558-2569.

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