An Approach to Improve Soil Quality: a Case Study of Straw Incorporation with a Decomposer Under Full Film-Mulched Ridge-Furrow Tillage on the Semiarid Loess Plateau, China

  • Feng ke YangEmail author
  • Baolin He
  • Ligong Zhang
  • Guoping Zhang
  • Yingping Gao
Original Paper


There is limited understanding of the effects of straw incorporation with decomposition agent (refer to decomposer) under full plastic film-mulched ridge-furrow tillage (FM) on straw decomposition rate and soil fertility. A direct field incubation test of straw with and without decomposer (T1 and T2) under FM using the litter bag method and a 3-year field experiment of five treatments including conventional planting (CP, as control), CP with straw incorporation (CPS), CP with straw incorporation plus decomposer (CPSD), FM with straw incorporation (FMS), and FM with straw incorporation plus decomposer (FMSD) were conducted in 2014–2016. The results showed that the initial straw N content, indigenous soil nitrogen content, and soil hydrothermal conditions were all remarkably affected by maize straw decomposition, and C and N release regardless of the decomposer. Applying the decomposer resulted in 80.3% decomposition of maize straw, leading to 81.3% of straw C and 83.3% of straw N release into the soil, which were 1.4, 1.1, and 1.06 times than that of CK, respectively. Meanwhile, the FMSD was significantly better in improving soil nutritional conditions, particularly for the tested parameters of soil organic carbon (SOC), soil total nitrogen (TN), available nitrogen (AN), available phosphorus (AP), and available potassium (AK). Importantly, FMSD drove a strong synergistic effect of decomposer and the modified soil hydrothermal conditions in comparison with CP, which led to the significant increase in SOC, TN, TP, AN, AP, and AK by 4.4–8.7%, 5.2–7.5%, 3.0–6.8%, 11.1–12.6%, 3.6–60.5%, and 6.2–54.6%, respectively. Therefore, FMSD is the best model for more efficient and sustainable soil fertility management in semiarid areas in China.


Straw incorporation into topsoil Straw decomposer Soil fertility response Full plastic film-mulched ridge-furrow tillage Model 



We are grateful to Doctor Xiaomei Yang, of the Soil Physics and Land Management, Wageningen University & Research, for precious language editing advice and to the many staff who are not listed as coauthors but were involved in maintaining the field experiments and collecting the soil samples.

Funding Information

This study was funded by the Natural Science Foundation of China (31560137), the Gansu Science & Technology Support Program (1204NKCA108), and the Natural Science Foundation Support Program of Gansu Academy of Agricultural Sciences (2017 GAAS95).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Sociedad Chilena de la Ciencia del Suelo 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Feng ke Yang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Baolin He
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ligong Zhang
    • 3
  • Guoping Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yingping Gao
    • 3
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of High Water Utilization on Dryland of Gansu ProvinceLanzhouChina
  2. 2.Institute of Dryland FarmingGansu Academy of Agricultural SciencesLanzhouChina
  3. 3.Agricultural Technology Promotion Center of Zhuanglang CountyZhuanglangChina

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