Spring Maize Yield, Soil Water Use And Water Use Efficiency Under Plastic Film And Straw Mulches In The Loess Plateau
To compare the soil water balance, yield and water use efficiency (WUE) of spring maize under different mulching types in the Loess Plateau, a 7-year field experiment was conducted in the Changwu region of the Loess Plateau. Three treatments were used in this experiment: straw mulch (SM), plastic film mulch (PM) and conventional covering without mulch (CK). Results show that the soil water change of dryland spring maize was as deep as 300 cm depth and hence 300 cm is recommended as the minimum depth when measure the soil water in this region. Water use (ET) did not differ significantly among the treatments. However, grain yield was significantly higher in PM compared with CK. WUE was significantly higher in PM than in CK for most years of the experiment. Although ET tended to be higher in PM than in the other treatments (without significance), the evaporation of water in the fallow period also decreased. Thus, PM is sustainable with respect to soil water balance. The 7-year experiment and the supplemental experiment thus confirmed that straw mulching at the seedling stage may lead to yield reduction and this effect can be mitigated by delaying the straw application to three-leaf stage.