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
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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.
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).
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Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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