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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2023, Vol. 22 Issue (4): 1021-1034    DOI: 10.1016/j.jia.2022.08.017
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Plastic-film-side seeding, as an alternative to traditional film mulching, improves yield stability and income in maize production in semi-arid regions

ZHANG Bing-chao1, HU Han1, GUO Zheng-yu2, GONG Shuai2, SHEN Si1, LIAO Shu-hua1, WANG Xin1, ZHOU Shun-li1#, ZHANG Zhong-dong2#

1 College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, P.R.China

2 Institute of Maize, Shanxi Agricultural University, Xinzhou 034000, P.R.China

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Planting under plastic-film mulches is widely used in spring maize production in arid-cold regions for water conservation and warming the soil.  To ameliorate the associated issues such as plastic-film residues and additional labor during the “seedling release” in spring maize production, we have developed a plastic-film-side seeding (PSS) technology with the supporting machinery.  In the semi-arid regions of Northwest China, a 7-year trial demonstrated that PSS increased plant number per hectare by 6 547 and maize yield by 1 686 kg ha–1 compared with the traditional method of seeding under plastic-film mulch (PM).  Two-year experiments were conducted in two semi-arid regions to further understand the effects of PSS on three important aspects of production: (i) the moisture and temperature of soil, (ii) maize development, yield output, and water use efficiency (WUE), and (iii) the revenue and plastic-film residuals in comparison with that of flat planting (CK) and PM.  Continuous monitoring of the soil status demonstrated that, compared with CK, the PSS treatment significantly increased the temperature and moisture of the 0–20 cm soil in the seeding row at the early stage of maize development, and it also promoted grain yield (at 884–1 089 kg ha–1) and WUE, achieving a similar effect as the PM treatment.  Economically, the labor inputs of PSS were equal to CK, whereas the PM cost an additional 960 CNY ha–1 in labor for releasing the seedlings from below the film.  Overall, the PSS system increased profits by 5.83% (547 CNY ha–1 yr–1) and 8.16% (748 CNY ha–1 yr–1) compared with CK and PM, respectively.  Environmentally, PSS achieved a residual film recovery rate of nearly 100% and eliminated 96 to 130 kg ha–1 of residual plastic-film in PM in 3–5 years of maize production.  Collectively, these results show that PSS is an eco-friendly technique for improving yield stability and incomes for the sustainable production of maize in semi-arid regions.

Keywords:  maize       soil water content       soil temperature       yield       plastic-film       semi-arid region  
Received: 19 January 2022   Accepted: 22 April 2022

This work was supported by the earmarked fund for China Agriculture Research System (CARS-02-16 and CARS-02-75) and the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0300301).

About author:  ZHANG Bing-chao, E-mail:; #Correspondence ZHOU Shun-li, Tel: +86-10-62732431, E-mail:; ZHANG Zhong-dong, E-mail:

Cite this article: 

ZHANG Bing-chao, HU Han, GUO Zheng-yu, GONG Shuai, SHEN Si, LIAO Shu-hua, WANG Xin, ZHOU Shun-li, ZHANG Zhong-dong. 2023. Plastic-film-side seeding, as an alternative to traditional film mulching, improves yield stability and income in maize production in semi-arid regions. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 22(4): 1021-1034.

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