Soil Water Balance and Water Use Efficiency of Dryland Wheat in Different Precipitation Years in Response to Green Manure Approach.
ABSTRACT: Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) monoculture is conventionally cultivated followed by two to three months of summer fallow in the Loess Plateau. To develop a sustainable cropping system, we conducted a six-year field experiment to investigate the effect of leguminous green manure (LGM) instead of bare fallow on the yield and water use efficiency (WUE) of winter wheat and the soil water balance (SWB) in different precipitation years in a semi-arid region of northwest China. Results confirmed that planting LGM crop consumes soil water in the fallow season can bring varied effects to the subsequent wheat. The effect is positive or neutral when the annual precipitation is adequate, so that there is no significant reduction in the soil water supplied to wheat. If this is not the case, the effect is negative. On average, the LGM crop increased wheat yield and WUE by 13% and 28%, respectively, and had considerable potential for maintaining the SWB (0-200 cm) compared with fallow management. In conclusion, cultivation of the LGM crop is a better option than fallow to improve the productivity and WUE of the next crop and maintain the soil water balance in the normal and wet years in the Loess Plateau.
Project description:Mulching is critical for increasing water availability and hence winter wheat production in dryland farming systems. A two-year study was conducted to assess the effects of mulches on soil water storage (SWS), temperature, water use efficiency (WUE) and yields of winter wheat on the Loess Plateau. Four treatments were examined: conventional flat planting (CK), straw mulch (FPS), transparent plastic film mulch (FPP) and ridge-furrow with plastic film-mulched ridge and straw-mulched furrow (RFPS). Compared with CK, RFPS greatly increased SWS from 0-60?cm, FPP increased SWS from 0-40?cm, and FPS slightly increased SWS from 0-60?cm; however, FPP significantly (P?<?0.05) decreased SWS from 61-100?cm. RFPS and FPP increased soil temperatures in cold seasons relative to CK, especially in RFPS (2.0-2.3?°C). Meanwhile, the rate of soil temperature increase was greater in RFPS and FPP than in CK but was lower in FPS. Mean yields were significantly increased in RFPS (56.78%), FPP (44.72%) and FPS (9.57%), and WUE was significantly increased in RFPS (44.04%) and in FPP (37.50%) compared with CK (P?<?0.05). We conclude that ridge-furrow planting with plastic film-mulched ridge and straw-mulched furrow has a good potential for raising winter wheat production on the Loess Plateau.
Project description:Sustainability of winter wheat yield under dryland conditions depends on improving soil water stored during fallow and its efficient use. A 3-year field experiment was conducted in Loess Plateau to access the effect of tillage and N (nitrogen) rates on soil water, N distribution and water- and nitrogen-use efficiency of winter wheat. Deep tillage (DT, 25-30 cm depth) and no-tillage (NT) were operated during fallow season, whereas four N rates (0, 90, 150 and 210 kg ha-1) were applied before sowing. Rates of N and variable rainfall during summer fallow period led to the difference of soil water storage. Soil water storage at anthesis and maturity was decreased with increasing N rate especially in the year with high precipitation (2014-2015). DT has increased the soil water storage at sowing, N content, numbers of spike, grain number, 1,000 grain weight, grain yield, and water and N use efficiency as compared to NT. Grain yield was significantly and positively related to soil water consumption at sowing to anthesis and anthesis to maturity, total plant N, and water-use efficiency. Our study implies that optimum N rate and deep tillage during the fallow season could improve dryland wheat production by balancing the water consumption and biomass production.
Project description:Mulching and tillage are widely considered to be major practices for improving soil and water conservation where water is scarce. This paper studied the effects of FM (flat mulching), RFM (ridge-furrow mulching), SM (straw mulching), MTMC (mulching with two materials combined), MOM (mulching with other materials), NT (no-tillage) ST (subsoiling tillage) and RT (rotational tillage) on wheat yield based on a synthesis of 85 recent publications (including 2795 observations at 24 sites) in the Loess Plateau, China. This synthesis suggests that wheat yield was in the range of 259-7898 kg ha(-1) for FM and RFM. The sequence of water use efficiency (WUE) effect sizes was similar to that of wheat yield for the practices. Wheat yields were more sensitive to soil water at planting covered by plastic film, wheat straw, liquid film, water-permeable plastic film and sand compared to NT, ST and RT. RFM and RT increased the yields of wheat by 18 and 15%, respectively, and corresponding for WUE by 20.11 and 12.50%. This synthesis demonstrates that RFM was better for avoiding the risk of reduced production due to lack of precipitation; however, under conditions of better soil moisture, RT and MTMC were also economic.
Project description:Agricultural management methods, such as cultivation or fallowing, have led to significant changes in soil fertility and hence, crop yield. Such changes may have stemmed from changes in soil microbial communities and associated biogeochemical processes. This phenomenon is particularly true in organic-poor soil in the Loess Plateau of China. In this study, we examined three existing soil management regimes as part of a 10-year field experiment and evaluated their effects on fungal and bacterial community structures by performing high-throughput 454 pyrosequencing. These management regimes were (i) fertilized winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) (FW), (ii) continuous natural fallow with weeds but without crop grown (NF), and (iii) continuous bare fallow without weeds or crop grown (BF). After 10 years, soil organic carbon (SOC), microbial biomass carbon (MBC), and available potassium (K) concentrations were highest in NF. Soil N behaved differently, with BF obtaining the highest nitrate nitrogen (N). Meanwhile, slight differences in total N (TN) were observed among FW, NF, and BF. Available phosphorus (P) was highest and available K was lowest in FW. Microbial communities were dominated by Ascomycota (59.1% of fungal sequences), and Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria (75.7% of bacterial sequences) in FW, NF and BF at the phylum level. Soil management regimes did not affect the fungal and bacterial richness and diversity but significantly modified their community compositions. Compared with FW, the abundances of Ascomycota (fungi phylum) and Alternaria, Gibberella, and Emericella (fungi genus) were increased by NF, whereas the values of Chaetomium, Humicola, and Cryptococcus (fungi genus) were decreased by BF. The abundances of Verrucomicrobia (bacteria phylum), and Steroidobacter (bacteria genus) were increased by NF, and Bacteroides (bacteria genus) was increased by BF. Canonical correspondence analysis showed that SOC, available P, and TN might be the key factors in community formation. Therefore, the decadal absence of plants (BF) affected soil fertility by increased available K and nitrate N, whileas natural fallow (NF) affected soil fertility by increased SOC, available K, and MBC, and they all changed fungal and bacterial community compositions.
Project description:Soil bacterial diversity and community composition are crucial for soil health and plant growth, and their dynamics in response to agronomic practices are poorly understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the response of soil bacterial community structure to the changes of sowing methods, soil depth and distance to roots in a winter wheat-summer maize crop rotation system on the Loess Plateau in china (35°17'38''N, 111°40'24''E). The experiment was laid out as completely randomized block design with three replications. Sowing methods trialed were: traditional sowing (TS), film-mulched ridge and furrow sowing (FMR&F), wide ridge and narrow furrow sowing (WR&NF) and unplanted control (CK). The result showed that the WR&NF sowing method treatment significantly decreased soil bacterial diversity (Chao 1 and Shannon indices) compared to the TS and FMR&F treatment, but increased abundance of beneficial bacteria such as genera Bacillus and Pseudomonas compared to the TS treatment. These genera showed a stronger correlation with soil properties and contributed to the soil nutrient cycling and crop productivity. Bacillus, Pseudomonas, Nevskia, and Lactococcus were the keystone genera in this winter wheat-summer maize rotation system on the Loess Plateau. Strong correlations between changes in soil properties and soil bacterial diversity and abundance were identified. In summary, we suggest that the WR&NF treatment, as a no-mulching film and no-deep tillage sowing method, would be the most suitable sowing technique in the winter wheat-summer maize rotation on Loess soil.
Project description:Global crop yields are limited by water and nutrient availability. Soil mulching (with plastic or straw) reduces evaporation, modifies soil temperature and thereby affects crop yields. Reported effects of mulching are sometimes contradictory, likely due to differences in climatic conditions, soil characteristics, crop species, and also water and nitrogen (N) input levels. Here we report on a meta-analysis of the effects of mulching on wheat and maize, using 1310 yield observations from 74 studies conducted in 19 countries. Our results indicate that mulching significantly increased yields, WUE (yield per unit water) and NUE (yield per unit N) by up to 60%, compared with no-mulching. Effects were larger for maize than wheat, and larger for plastic mulching than straw mulching. Interestingly, plastic mulching performed better at relatively low temperature while straw mulching showed the opposite trend. Effects of mulching also tended to decrease with increasing water input. Mulching effects were not related to soil organic matter content. In conclusion, soil mulching can significantly increase maize and wheat yields, WUE and NUE, and thereby may contribute to closing the yield gap between attainable and actual yields, especially in dryland and low nutrient input agriculture. The management of soil mulching requires site-specific knowledge.
Project description:The bioavailability and fractionation of Cu reflect its deliverability in soil. Little research has investigated Cu supply to crops in soil under long-term rotation and fertilisation on the Loess Plateau. A field experiment was conducted in randomized complete block design to determine the bioavailability and distribution of Cu fractions in a Heilu soil (Calcaric Regosol) after 18 years of rotation and fertilisation. The experiment started in 1984, including five cropping systems (fallow control, alfalfa cropping, maize cropping, winter wheat cropping, and grain-legume rotation of pea/winter wheat/winter wheat + millet) and five fertiliser treatments (unfertilised control, N, P, N + P, and N + P + manure). Soil samples were collected in 2002 for chemical analysis. Available Cu was assessed by diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA) extraction, and Cu was fractionated by sequential extraction. Results showed that DTPA-Cu was lower in cropping systems compared with fallow control. Application of fertilisers resulted in no remarkable changes in DTPA-Cu compared with unfertilised control. Correlation and path analyses revealed that soil pH and CaCO3 directly affected Cu bioavailability, whereas available P indirectly affected Cu bioavailability. The concentrations of Cu fractions (carbonate and Fe/Al oxides) in the plough layer were lower in cropping systems, while the values in the plough sole were higher under grain-legume rotation relative to fallow control. Manure with NP fertiliser increased Cu fractions bound to organic matter and minerals in the plough layer, and its effects in the plough sole varied with cropping systems. The direct sources (organic-matter-bound fraction and carbonate-bound fraction) of available Cu contributed much to Cu bioavailability. The mineral-bound fraction of Cu acted as an indicator of Cu supply potential in the soil.
Project description:End-of-season drought or "terminal drought," which occurs after flowering, is considered the most significant abiotic stress affecting crop yields. Wheat crop production in Mediterranean-type environments is often exposed to terminal drought due to decreasing rainfall and rapid increases in temperature and evapotranspiration during spring when wheat crops enter the reproductive stage. Under such conditions, every millimeter of extra soil water extracted by the roots benefits grain filling and yield and improves water use efficiency (WUE). When terminal drought develops, soil dries from the top, exposing the top part of the root system to dry soil while the bottom part is in contact with available soil water. Plant roots sense the drying soil and produce signals, which on transmission to shoots trigger stomatal closure to regulate crop water use through transpiration. However, transpiration is linked to crop growth and productivity and limiting transpiration may reduce potential yield. While an early and high degree of stomatal closure affects photosynthesis and hence biomass production, a late and low degree of stomatal closure exhausts available soil water rapidly which results in yield losses through a reduction in post-anthesis water use. The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) is considered the major chemical signal involved in stomatal regulation. Wheat genotypes differ in their ability to produce ABA under drought and also in their stomatal sensitivity to ABA. In this viewpoint article we discuss the possibilities of exploiting genotypic differences in ABA response to soil drying in regulating the use of water under terminal drought. Root density distribution in the upper drying layers of the soil profile is identified as a candidate trait that can affect ABA accumulation and subsequent stomatal closure. We also examine whether leaf ABA can be designated as a surrogate characteristic for improved WUE in wheat to sustain grain yield under terminal drought. Ease of collecting leaf samples to quantify ABA compared to extracting xylem sap will facilitate rapid screening of a large number of germplasm for drought tolerance.
Project description:Understanding the genetic basis of water use efficiency (WUE) and its roles in plant adaptation to a drought environment is essential for the production of second-generation energy crops in water-deficit marginal land. In this study, RNA-Seq and WUE measurements were performed for 78 individuals of Miscanthus lutarioriparius grown in two common gardens, one located in warm and wet Central China near the native habitats of the species and the other located in the semiarid Loess Plateau, the domestication site of the energy crop. The field measurements showed that WUE of M. lutarioriparius in the semiarid location was significantly higher than that in the wet location. A matrix correlation analysis was conducted between gene expression levels and WUE to identify candidate genes involved in the improvement of WUE from the native to the domestication site. A total of 48 candidate genes were identified and assigned to functional categories, including photosynthesis, stomatal regulation, protein metabolism, and abiotic stress responses. Of these genes, nearly 73% were up-regulated in the semiarid site. It was also found that the relatively high expression variation of the WUE-related genes was affected to a larger extent by environment than by genetic variation. The study demonstrates that transcriptome-wide correlation between physiological phenotypes and expression levels offers an effective means for identifying candidate genes involved in the adaptation to environmental changes.
Project description:A dry soil layer (DSL) is a common soil desiccation phenomenon that generally forms at a particular depth in the soil profile because of climatic factors and poor land management, and this phenomenon can influence the water cycle and has been observed on the Loess Plateau of China and other similar regions around the world. Therefore, an investigation of the DSL formation depth (DSLFD), thickness (DSLT) and mean water content (MWDSL) on the Loess Plateau can provide valuable information. This paper synthesized 69 recent publications (1,149 observations of DSLs from 73 sites) that focused on DSLs in this region, and the results indicated that DSLs are significantly affected by climatic and vegetation factors. The mean annual precipitation had a significant positive relationship with DSLFD (p = 0.0003) and MWDSL (p<0.0001) and a negative relationship with DSLT (p = 0.0071). Crops had the lowest DSLT and highest MWDSL values compared with other vegetation types. A significant correlation was observed between the occurrence of DSLs and the years since planting for grasses, shrubs, trees and orchards, and the severity of DSLs increased with increasing planting years and wheat yield. Our results suggest that optimizing land-use management can mitigate DSL formation and development on the Loess Plateau. Understanding the dominant factors affecting DSLs will provide information for use in guidelines for the sustainable development of economies and restoration of natural environments experiencing water deficiencies.