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Reducing water and nitrogen inputs combined with plastic mulched ridge-furrow irrigation improves soil water and salt status in arid saline areas, China

Abstract

Plastic mulched ridge-furrow irrigation is a useful method to improve crop productivity and decrease salt accumulation in arid saline areas. However, inappropriate irrigation and fertilizer practices may result in ecological and environmental problems. In order to improve the resource use efficiency in these areas, we investigated the effects of different irrigation amounts (400 (I1), 300 (I2) and 200 (I3) mm) and nitrogen application rates (300 (F1) and 150 (F2) kg N/hm2) on water consumption, salt variation and resource use efficiency of spring maize (Zea mays L.) in the Hetao Irrigation District (HID) of Northwest China in 2017 and 2018. Result showed that soil water contents were 0.2%–8.9% and 13.9%–18.1% lower for I2 and I3 than for I1, respectively, but that was slightly higher for F2 than for F1. Soil salt contents were 7.8%–23.5% and 48.5%–18.9% lower for I2 than for I1 and I3, but that was 1.6%–5.5% higher for F1 than for F2. Less salt leaching at the early growth stage (from sowing to six-leaf stage) and higher salt accumulation at the peak growth stage (from six-leaf to tasseling stage and from grain-filling to maturity stage) resulted in a higher soil salt content for I3 than for I1 and I2. Grain yields for I1 and I2 were significantly higher than that for I3 and irrigation water use efficiency for I2 was 14.7%–34.0% higher than that for I1. Compared with F1, F2 increased the partial factor productivity (PFP) of nitrogen fertilizer by more than 80%. PFP was not significantly different between I1F2 and I2F2, but significantly higher than those of other treatments. Considering the goal of saving water and nitrogen resources, and ensuring food security, we recommended the combination of I2F2 to ensure the sustainable development of agriculture in the HID and other similar arid saline areas.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51879224, 51609237) and the Key Research and Development Projects of Shaanxi Province, China (2019NY-190).

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Correspondence to Qin’ge Dong or Hao Feng.

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Li, C., Wang, Q., Luo, S. et al. Reducing water and nitrogen inputs combined with plastic mulched ridge-furrow irrigation improves soil water and salt status in arid saline areas, China. J. Arid Land 13, 761–776 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0015-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0015-3

Keywords

  • plastic mulched ridge-furrow irrigation
  • crop water consumption
  • soil salt variations
  • resource use efficiency
  • Hetao Irrigation District