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Maize residues, soil quality, and wheat growth in China. A review

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Abstract

Crop residue retention is a key component of sustainable cropping systems. In recent years, retention of crop residue is a means of improving soil quality and nutrient capacity and reducing the adverse effects of residue burning. Maize–wheat rotation is a major double-cropping system practiced on more than one fifth of agricultural lands worldwide. Currently, more than 50 % of maize residues are retained immediately after harvesting. In China, this practice has beneficial effects on soil properties and productivity of the succeeding wheat crop. However, increasing the retention of maize residues without proper soil management has also led to a series of concerns, such as short-term nitrogen immobilization, rapid moisture loss, and high susceptibility to freezing during winter as a result of increased soil porosity. Therefore, other practices for maize residue retention are needed to promote wheat growth and the release of nutrients. This article reviews recent developments in China concerning the consequences of maize residue retention on the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil quality and the growth, productivity, and quality of wheat. Major patterns of maize residue retention are discussed. In particular, this review provides three complementary approaches for maize residue management.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Shandong and National Earmarked Fund for Modern Agro-industry Technology Research System (CARS-3-1-21) and the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest, Ministry of Agriculture, China (2013031097 and 201203079).

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Correspondence to Lingan Kong.

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Kong, L. Maize residues, soil quality, and wheat growth in China. A review. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 34, 405–416 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-013-0182-5

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