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Effects Of Different Ridge:furrow Ratios And Supplemental Irrigation On Crop Production In Ridge And Furrow Rainfall Harvesting System With Mulches

X. Li, Jia-Dong Gong
Published 2002 · Geology

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Abstract The ridge and furrow rainfall harvesting (RFRH) system with mulches is being promoted to increase water availability for crops for higher and stable agricultural production in many areas of the Loess Plateau in northwest China. In the system, plastic-covered ridges serve as rainfall-harvesting zones and stone-, straw- or film-mulched furrows serve as planting zones. To adopt this system more effectively, a field study (using corn as an indicator crop) was conducted to determine the effects of different ridge:furrow ratios and supplemental irrigation on crop yield and water use efficiency (WUE) in the RFRH system with mulches during the growing seasons of 1998 and 1999. The results indicated that the ridge:furrow ratios had a significant effect on crop yield and yield components. The 120:60 cm ridge and furrow (120 cm wide ridge and 60 cm wide furrow) system increased yield by 27.9%, seed weight per head by 14.8%, seed number per head by 7.4% and 1000-seed weight by 4.7%, compared with the 60:60 cm ridge and furrow (60 cm wide ridge and 60 cm wide furrow) system. No differences in WUE were found between the two ratio systems. For corn and winter wheat, the optimum ridge:furrow ratio seems to be 1:1 in the 300-mm rainfall area, 1:2 in the 400-mm rainfall area and 1:4 in the 500-mm rainfall area. The optimum ridge:furrow ratio seems to be 1:3 for millet in the 300-mm rainfall area, although it is unnecessary to adopt RFRH practice in regions with more than 400 mm rainfall. The most effective ridge size for crop production seems 60 cm in the Loess Plateau. Implementing supplemental irrigation in the RFRH system is also a useful way to deal with the temporal problem of moisture deficits. In the case of corn, supplemental irrigation at its critical growth stage can increase both grain yield and WUE by 20%. The combination of in situ RFRH system with supplemental irrigation practice will make the RFRH system more attractive.
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