Effects of biodegradable mulch on soil water and heat conditions, yield and quality of processing tomatoes by drip irrigation

Abstract

To combat the problem of residual film pollution and ensure the sustainable development of agriculture in oasis areas, a field experiment was carried out in 2019 at the Wuyi Farm Corps Irrigation Center Test Station in Urumqi, Northwest China. Four types of biodegradable mulches, traditional plastic mulchs and a control group (bare land; referred to as CK) were compared, including a total of six different treatments. Effects of mulching on soil water and heat conditions as well as the yield and quality of processing tomatoes under drip irrigation were examined. In addition, a comparative analysis of economic benefits of biodegradable mulches was performed. Principal component analysis and gray correlation analysis were used to evaluate suitable mulching varieties for planting processing tomatoes under drip irrigation. Our results show that, compared with CK, biodegradable mulches and traditional plastic mulch have a similar effect on retaining soil moisture at the seedling stage but significantly increase soil moisture by 0.5%–1.5% and 1.5%–3.0% in the middle and late growth periods (P<0.050), respectively. The difference in the thermal insulation effect between biodegradable mulch and plastic mulch gradually reduces as the crop grows. Compared with plastic mulch, the average soil temperature at 5–20 cm depth under biodegradable mulches is significantly lowered by 2.04°C–3.52°C and 0.52°C–0.88°C (P<0.050) at the seedling stage and the full growth period, respectively, and the water use efficiency, average fruit yield, and production-investment ratio under biodegradable mulches were reduced by 0.89%–6.63%, 3.39%–8.69%, and 0.51%–6.33% (P<0.050), respectively. The comprehensive evaluation analysis suggests that the black oxidized biological double-degradation ecological mulch made from eco-benign plastic is the optimal film type under the study condition. Therefore, from the perspective of sustainable development, biodegradable mulch is a competitive alternative to plastic mulch for large-scale tomato production under drip irrigation in the oasis.

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Acknowledgements

This research was financially supported by the Scientific and Technological Innovation Team Project in Key Areas (2019CB004) and the Water-Saving Irrigation Experiment Project (BTJSSY-201911) of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, China.

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Correspondence to Zhenhua Wang.

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Jia, H., Wang, Z., Zhang, J. et al. Effects of biodegradable mulch on soil water and heat conditions, yield and quality of processing tomatoes by drip irrigation. J. Arid Land 12, 819–836 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-020-0108-4

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Keywords

  • biodegradable plastic mulch
  • processing tomato
  • water use efficiency
  • soil water and heat
  • comprehensive evaluation
  • regional agricultural sustainability
  • Xinjiang