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Soil CO2 emissions from summer maize fields under deficit irrigation


Irrigation practice is one of the main factors affecting soil carbon dioxide (CO2) emission from croplands and therefore on global warming. As a water-saving irrigation practice, the deficit irrigation has been widely used in summer maize fields and is expected to adapt to the shortage of water resources in Northwest China. In this study, we examined the impacts of deficit irrigation practices on soil CO2 emissions through a plot experiment with different irrigation regimes in a summer maize field in Northwest China. The irrigation regimes consisted of three irrigation treatments: deficit irrigation treatments (T1: reduce the irrigation amount by 20%, T2: reduce the irrigation amount by 40%) and full irrigation (T0) treatments. The results showed that the soil CO2 cumulative emissions with T1 and T2 were decreased by 9.8% (p < 0.05) and 14.3% (p < 0.05), respectively, compared with T0 treatment (1365.3 kg-C ha−1). However, there were no significant differences between T1 and T2 treatments (p > 0.05). Soil CO2 fluxes with different irrigation treatments showed significant correlations with soil moisture (p < 0.001) and soil temperature (p < 0.05). It was also observed that summer maize yields with T1 and T2 treatments were reduced by 4.9% (p > 0.05) and 30.9% (p < 0.05), compared with T0 (34.3 t ha−1), respectively. The findings demonstrate that the deficit irrigation treatment (T1) resulted in a considerable decrease in soil CO2 emissions without impacting the summer maize yields significantly. The results could be interpreted to develop better irrigation management practices aiming at reducing soil CO2 emissions, saving water, and ensuring crop yield in the summer maize fields in Northwest China.

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This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0400201), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK20171288), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51309192), and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD).

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Correspondence to Huijing Hou or Zhanchao Li.

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Hou, H., Han, Z., Yang, Y. et al. Soil CO2 emissions from summer maize fields under deficit irrigation. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 4442–4449 (2020).

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  • Deficit irrigation
  • CO2
  • Soil respiration
  • Static chamber
  • Yield
  • Summer maize