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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2021, Vol. 20 Issue (2): 363-370    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(20)63363-9
Section 1: Using modeling method to evaluate yield and efficiency gaps Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
Reducing maize yield gap by matching plant density and solar radiation
LIU Guang-zhou1*, LIU Wan-mao2*, HOU Peng1, MING Bo1, YANG Yun-shan2, GUO Xiao-xia2, XIE Rui-zhi1, WANG Ke-ru1, LI Shao-kun1
1 Key Laboratory of Crop Physiology and Ecology, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs/Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, P.R.China 
2 The Key Laboratory of Oasis Eco-agriculture, Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps/College of Agronomy, Shihezi Univerisy, Shihezi 832000, P.R.China
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Abstract  Yield gap exists because the current attained actual grain yield cannot yet achieve the estimated yield potential. Chinese high yield maize belt has a wide span from east to west which results in different solar radiations between different regions and thus different grain yields. We used multi-site experimental data, surveyed farmer yield data, the highest recorded yield data in the literatures, and simulations with Hybrid-Maize Model to assess the yield gap and tried to reduce the yield gap by matching the solar radiation and plant density. The maize belt was divided into five regions from east to west according to distribution of accumulated solar radiation. The results showed that there were more than 5.8 Mg ha–1 yield gaps between surveyed farmer yield and the yield potential in different regions of China from east to west, which just achieved less than 65% of the yield potential. By analyzing the multi-site density experimental data, we found that the accumulated solar radiation was significantly correlated to optimum plant density which is the density with the highest yield in the multi-site density experiment (y=0.09895x–32.49, P<0.01), according to which the optimum plant densities in different regions from east to west were calculated. It showed that the optimum plant density could be increased by 60.0, 55.2, 47.3, 84.8, and 59.6% compared to the actual density, the grain yield could be increased by 20.2, 18.3, 10.9, 18.1, and 15.3% through increasing plant density, which could reduce the yield gaps of 33.7, 23.0, 13.4, 17.3, and 10.4% in R (region)-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, and R-5, respectively. This study indicates that matching maize plant density and solar radiation is an effective approach to reduce yield gaps in different regions of China.
Keywords:  maize       yield gap       yield potential       matching density and radiation  
Received: 07 April 2020   Accepted: 28 January 2021
Fund: This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0300110, 2016YFD0300101), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31871558) and the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, 2015CB150401).
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence LI Shao-kun, Tel/Fax: +86-10-82108891, E-mail:; HOU Peng, Tel/Fax: +86-10-82108595, E-mail:    
About author:  LIU Guang-zhou, Tel: +86-10-82108595, E-mail:;

Cite this article: 

LIU Guang-zhou, LIU Wan-mao, HOU Peng, MING Bo, YANG Yun-shan, GUO Xiao-xia, XIE Rui-zhi, WANG Ke-ru, LI Shao-kun. 2021. Reducing maize yield gap by matching plant density and solar radiation. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 20(2): 363-370.

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