Advertisement

Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 85, Issue 2, pp 109–121 | Cite as

Effects of mulch, N fertilizer, and plant density on wheat yield, wheat nitrogen uptake, and residual soil nitrate in a dryland area of China

  • Yajun GaoEmail author
  • Yun Li
  • Jianchang Zhang
  • Wenguo Liu
  • Zhanping Dang
  • Weixian Cao
  • Qin Qiang
Original article

Abstract

Understanding mulching influences on nitrogen (N) activities in soil is important for developing N management strategies in dryland. A 3 year field experiment was conducted in the Loess Plateau of China to investigate the effects of mulching, N fertilizer application rate and plant density on winter wheat yield, N uptake by wheat and residual soil nitrate in a winter wheat-fallow system. The split plot design included four mulching methods (CK, no mulch; SM, straw mulch; FM, plastic film mulch; CM, combined mulch with plastic film and straw) as main plot treatments. Three N fertilizer rates (N0, 0 kg N ha−1; N120, 120 kg N ha−1; N240, 240 kg N ha−1) were sub-plot treatments and two wheat sowing densities (LD, low density, seeding rate = 180 kg ha−1; HD, high density, seeding rate = 225 kg ha−1) were sub-subplot treatments. The results showed that wheat yield, N uptake, and N use efficiency (NUE) were higher for FM and CM compared to CK. However, soil nitrate-N contents in the 0–200 cm soil profile were also higher for FM and CM compared to CK after the 3 year experiment. Wheat grain yields were higher for SM compared to CK only when high levels of nitrogen or high planting density were applied. Mulching did not have a significant effect on wheat yield, nitrogen uptake and NUE when soil water content at planting was much high. Wheat yield, N uptake, and residual nitrate in 0–200 cm were significantly higher for N240 compared to N120 and N0. Wheat yield and N uptake were also significantly higher for HD compared to LD. When 0 or 120 kg N ha−1 was applied, HD had more residual nitrate than LD while the reverse was true when 240 kg N ha−1 was applied. After 3 years, residual nitrate-N in 0–200 cm soil averaged 170 kg ha−1, which was equivalent to ~40% of the total N uptake by wheat in the three growing seasons.

Keywords

Plastic film mulch Straw mulch Combined mulch with plastic film and straw Nitrogen Soil residual nitrate Winter wheat Dryland 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The research was supported by grants from The National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 40471069, 30230230, 40201028) and National Key Technology R&D Program (2008BADA4b09). We thank Dr. Marco Roelcke from Braunschweig Technical University, Germany, and Dr. William J. Gale, Northwest A&F University, for their linguistic revisions and suggestions to the manuscript.

References

  1. Abad A, Lloveras J, Michelena A (2004) Nitrogen fertilization and foliar urea effects on durum wheat yield and quality and on residual soil nitrate in irrigated Mediterranean conditions. Field Crops Res 87:257–269. doi: 10.1016/j.fcr.2003.11.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allmaras RR, Dowdy RH (1985) Conservation tillage systems and their adoption in the United States. Soil Tillage Res 5:197–222. doi: 10.1016/0167-1987(85)90030-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ball MC, Egerton JJG, Luening R, Cunningham RB, Dunne P (1997) Microclimate above grass adversely affects spring growth of seedling snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora). Plant Cell Environ 20:155–166. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3040.1997.d01-61.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bruce SE, Kirkegaard JA, Pratley J, Howe G (2005) Impacts of retained wheat stubble on canola in southern NSW. Aust J Agric Res 45:1–12. doi: 10.1071/EA00110 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen YX, Liu XY, Liu MG (1995) Soil air regime and soil structure of the fields under plastic mulching. J Shengyang Agric Univ 26:146–151 in ChineseGoogle Scholar
  6. Cui ZL, Chen XP, Li JL, Xu JF, Shi LW, Zhang FS (2006) Effect of N fertilization on grain yield of winter wheat and apparent N losses. Pedosphere 16:806–812. doi: 10.1016/S1002-0160(06)60117-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Deng XP, Shan L, Zhang HP, Turner NC (2006) Improving agricultural water use efficiency in arid and semiarid areas of China. Agric Water Manage 80:23–40. doi: 10.1016/j.agwat.2005.07.021 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Döring TF, Brandt M, Heß J, Finckh MR, Saucke H (2005) Effects of straw mulch on soil nitrate dynamics, weeds, yield, and soil erosion in organically grown potatoes. Field Crops Res 94:238–249. doi: 10.1016/j.fcr.2005.01.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Editors Committee of China Agricultural Yearbook (2006) China agricultural yearbook. Agricultural Science Press, Beijing, China (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  10. Fan J, Hao MD, Shao MA (2003) Nitrate accumulation in soil profile of dry land farming in northwest China. Pedosphere 13:367–374Google Scholar
  11. Ferguson RB, Hergert GW, Schepers JS, Gotway CA, Cahoon JE, Peterson TA (2002) Site-specific nitrogen management of irrigated maize: yield and soil residual nitrate effects. Soil Sci Soc Am J 66:544–553Google Scholar
  12. Gajri PR, Arora VK, Chaudhary MR (1994) Maize growth responses to deep tillage, straw mulching and farmyard manure in coarse textured soils of N.W. India. Soil Use Manage 10:15–20. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-2743.1994.tb00451.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Han JG, Bai HY, Qu D (2002) Effects of clear plastic film mulch on the change of N2O discharge flux. China Environ Sci 22:286–288 in Chinese, with English abstractGoogle Scholar
  14. Huang YL, Chen LD, Fu BJ, Huang ZL, Gong J (2005) The wheat yields and water-use efficiency in the Loess Plateau: straw mulch and irrigation effects. Agric Water Manage 72:209–222. doi: 10.1016/j.agwat.2004.09.012 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hurry VM, Strand A, Tobiaeson M, Gardestrom P, Oquist G (1995) Cold hardening of spring wheat and rape results in differential effects on growth, carbon metabolism, and carbohydrate content. Plant Physiol 109:697–706PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. IFA (2006) International fertilizer industry association. Statistics nitrogen fertilizer nutrient consumption. Updated June 2006 http://www.fertilizer.org/ifa/statistics/indicators/tablen.asp
  17. Jin K, Cornelis WM, Schiettecatte W, Lu JJ, Yao YQ, Wu HJ, Gabriels D, Neve SD, Cai DX, Jin JY, Hartmann R (2007) Effects of different management practices on the soil–water balance and crop yield for improved dryland farming in the Chinese Loess Plateau. Soil Tillage Res 96:131–144. doi: 10.1016/j.still.2007.05.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ju XT, Liu XJ, Zhang FS, Roelcke M (2004) Nitrogen fertilization, soil nitrate accumulation, and policy recommendations in several agricultural regions of China. Ambio 33:300–305. doi: 10.1639/0044-7447(2004)033[0300:NFSNAA]2.0.CO;2 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Ju XT, Kou CL, Zhang FS, Christie P (2006) Nitrogen balance and groundwater nitrate contamination: comparison among three intensive cropping systems on the North China plain. Environ Pollut 143:117–125. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2005.11.005 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Li XY, Gong JD (2002) Effects of different ridge:furrow ratios and supplemental irrigation on crop production in ridge and furrow rainfall harvesting system with mulches. Agric Water Manage 54:243–254. doi: 10.1016/S0378-3774(01)00172-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Li FM, Song QH, Jjemba PK, Shi YC (2004) Dynamics of soil microbial biomass C and soil fertility in cropland mulched with plastic film in a semiarid agro-ecosystem. Soil Biol Biochem 36:1893–1902CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Li WX, Li L, Sun JH, Guo TW, Zhang FS, Bao XG, Peng A, Tang C (2005) Effects of intercropping and nitrogen application on nitrate present in the profile of an Orthic Anthrosol in northwest China. Agric Ecosyst Environ 105:483–491. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2004.07.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Li YS, Wu LH, Lu XH, Zhao LM, Fan QL, Zhang FS (2006) Soil microbial biomass as affected by non-flooded plastic mulching cultivation in rice. Biol Fertil Soils 43:107–111. doi: 10.1007/s00374-005-0069-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Li YX, Tullberg JN, Freebairn DM (2007) Wheel traffic and tillage effects on runoff and crop yield. Soil Tillage Res 97:282–292. doi: 10.1016/j.still.2005.10.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Li F, Gnyp ML, Jia LL, Miao YX, Yu ZH, Koppe W, Bareth G, Chen XP, Zhang FS (2008) Estimating N status of winter wheat using a handheld spectrometer in the North China plain. Field Crops Res 106:77–85. doi: 10.1016/j.fcr.2007.11.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Liu SG, Wang JK (2006) Effect of long-term covering with plastic film on NH4 +-N and NO3 -N in depth profile of brown earth. Chin J Soil Sci 37:443–446 in Chinese, with English abstractGoogle Scholar
  27. Liu XJ, Ju XT, Zhang FS, Pan JR, Christie P (2003) Nitrogen dynamics and budgets in a winter wheat-maize cropping system in the North China plain. Field Crops Res 83:111–124. doi: 10.1016/S0378-4290(03)00068-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. López-Bellidoa L, López-Bellidob RJ, Redondo R (2005) Nitrogen efficiency in wheat under rainfed Mediterranean conditions as affected by split nitrogen application. Field Crops Res 94:86–97. doi: 10.1016/j.fcr.2004.11.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Martin EC, Loudon TL, Ritchie JT, Werner A (1994) Use of drainage lysimeters to evaluate nitrogen and irrigation management strategies to minimize nitrate leaching in maize production. Trans ASAE 37:79–83Google Scholar
  30. Miburn P, Richards JE, Gartley C, Pollock T, O’Neill H, Bailey H (1990) Nitrate leaching from systematically tiled potato fields in New Brunswick, Canada. J Environ Qual 19:448–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rees RM, Roelcke M, Li SX, Wang XQ, Li SQ, Stockdale EA, McTaggart IP, Smith KA, Richter J (1997) The effect of fertilizer placement on nitrogen uptake and yield of wheat and maize in Chinese loess soils. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 47:81–91. doi: 10.1007/BF01985721 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Roelcke M, Rees RM, Li SX, Richter J (2000) Studies of the nitrogen cycle on the southern edge of the Chinese Loess Plateau. In: Laflen J, Tian J, Huang C-H (eds) Proceedings of conference soil erosion and dryland farming, Xi’an, China, Sept 1997, Chap. 12. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 103–119Google Scholar
  33. Roelcke M, Li SX, Tian XH, Gao YJ, Richter J (2002) In situ comparisons of ammonia volatilization from N fertilizers in Chinese loess soils. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 62:73–88. doi: 10.1023/A:1015186605419 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tilander Y, Bonzi M (1997) Water and nutrient conservation through the use of agroforestry mulches, and sorghum yield response. Plant Soil 197:219–232. doi: 10.1023/A:1004263930096 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tolk JA, Howell TA, Evett SR (1999) Effect of mulch, irrigation and soil type on water use and yield of maize. Soil Tillage Res 50:137–147. doi: 10.1016/S0167-1987(99)00011-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. UNEP (1999) Global environment outlook 2000. United Nations Environment Program, Nairobi, p 20Google Scholar
  37. Unger PW (1986) Wheat residue management effects on soil water storage and corn production. Soil Sci Soc Am J 50:764–770Google Scholar
  38. Wilson DJ, Jefferies RL (1996) Nitrogen mineralization, plant growth and goose herbivory in an arctic coastal ecosystem. J Ecol 84:841–851. doi: 10.2307/2960556 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Yang SM, Malhi SS, Song JR, Xiong YC, Yue WY, Lu LL, Wang JG, Guo TW (2006a) Crop yield, nitrogen uptake and nitrate-nitrogen accumulation in soil as affected by 23 annual applications of fertilizer and manure in the rainfed region of northwestern China. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 76:81–94. doi: 10.1007/s10705-006-9042-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yang YM, Liu XJ, Li WQ, Li CZ (2006b) Effect of different mulch materials on winter wheat production in desalinized soil in Heilonggang region of North China. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B 7:858–867. doi: 10.1631/jzus.2006.B0858 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zheng XH, Fu CB, Xu XK, Yan XD, Huang Y, Han SH, Hu F, Chen GX (2002) The Asian nitrogen cycle case study. Ambio 31:79–87. doi: 10.1639/0044-7447(2002)031[0079:TANCCS]2.0.CO;2 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Zhou SL, Wu YC, Wang ZM, Lu LQ, Wang RZ (2007) The nitrate leached below maize root zone is available for deep-rooted wheat in winter wheat-summer maize rotation in the North China plain. Environ Pollut 152:723–730. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2007.06.047 Google Scholar
  43. Zhu ZL, Chen DL (2002) Nitrogen fertilizer use in China—contributions to food production, impacts on the environment and best management strategies. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 63:117–127. doi: 10.1023/A:1021107026067 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zhu A, Zhang JB, Zhao BZ, Cheng ZH, Li LP (2005) Water balance and nitrate leaching losses under intensive crop production with Ochric Aquic Cambosols in North China plain. Environ Int 31:904–912. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2005.05.038 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yajun Gao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yun Li
    • 1
  • Jianchang Zhang
    • 2
  • Wenguo Liu
    • 2
  • Zhanping Dang
    • 2
  • Weixian Cao
    • 2
  • Qin Qiang
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Resources and EnvironmentNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.Yangling Vocational and Technical CollegeYanglingChina

Personalised recommendations