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Responses of canopy characteristics and water use efficiency to ammoniated straw incorporation for summer maize (Zea mays L.) in the Loess Plateau, China

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  • Yue Li
  • Ji Chen
  • Hao Feng, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, CAS - Institute of Soil and Water Conservation
  • ,
  • Qin'ge Dong, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, CAS - Institute of Soil and Water Conservation
  • ,
  • Kadambot H.M. Siddique, University of Western Australia

Straw application has a wide range of environmental benefits that make it an effective practice for sustainable agriculture. However, little is well known about the impacts of ammoniated straw addition on soil water and crop canopy characteristics in maize cultivation systems. A 3-year field experiment of summer maize (Zea mays L.) in Northwest China was conducted to evaluate the effects of different straw applications on soil water storage, maize canopy growth, grain yield and water use efficiency (WUE). The three treatments were: (i) no straw (traditional tillage, CK), (ii) straw mulch (traditional straw returning, T1), and (iii) ammoniated straw incorporated into the soil (optimized straw returning, T2). The T2 treatment increased average WUE by 14.8%, 7.8%, and 16.1% in 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively, relative to the CK treatment. The 3-year average grain yield of the T2 treatment was 13.5% and 8.3% greater than grain yield of the CK and T1 treatments, respectively. Harvest index and 100-kernel weight of summer maize in the T2 treatment were higher than observed for the CK and T1 treatments. Across the three growing years, the T2 treatment was superior over the T1 and CK treatments in improving average LAI, spatial density of leaf area, green canopy cover and aboveground biomass. Hence, our study recommends that using ammoniated straw incorporation could be a promising application for synergistically improving maize growth, WUE and grain yield within this semi-arid region.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106948
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 51609237 and 51879224 ), 111 Project of the Ministry of Education and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs ( B12007 ), and Key R&D projects of Shaanxi Province ( 2019NY-190 ). This work was also financially supported by the China Scholarship Council (No. 202006300072 ) and supported by Aarhus University . Thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable review and comments on the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Ammoniated straw incorporation, Grain yield, Loess Plateau, Maize growth, Water use efficiency

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