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Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (5): 794-808    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0122-y
Orginal Article     
Mulching mode and planting density affect canopy interception loss of rainfall and water use efficiency of dryland maize on the Loess Plateau of China
Jing ZHENG1,2, Junliang FAN1,2,*(), Fucang ZHANG1,2, Shicheng YAN1,2, Jinjin GUO1,2, Dongfeng CHEN1,2, Zhijun LI1,2
1 Key Laboratory of Agricultural Soil and Water Engineering in Arid and Semiarid Areas of Ministry of Education, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China;
2 Institute of Water-saving Agriculture in Arid Areas of China, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China;
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High and efficient use of limited rainwater resources is of crucial importance for the crop production in arid and semi-arid areas.To investigate the effects of different soil and crop management practices (i.e., mulching mode treatments: flat cultivation with non-mulching, flat cultivation with straw mulching, plastic-covered ridge with bare furrow and plastic-covered ridge with straw-covered furrow; and planting density treatments: low planting density of 45,000 plants/hm2, medium planting density of 67,500 plants/hm2 and high planting density of 90,000 plants/hm2) on rainfall partitioning by dryland maize canopy, especially the resulted net rainfall input beneath the maize canopy, we measured the gross rainfall, throughfall and stemflow at different growth stages of dryland maize in 2015 and 2016 on the Loess Plateau of China. The canopy interception loss was estimated by the water balance method. Soil water storage, leaf area index, grain yield (as well as it components) and water use efficiency of dryland maize were measured or calculated. Results showed that the cumulative throughfall, cumulative stemflow and cumulativecanopy interception loss during the whole growing season accounted for 42.3%-77.5%, 15.1%-36.3% and 7.4%-21.4% of the total gross rainfall under different treatments, respectively. Soil mulching could promote the growth and development of dryland maize and enhance the capability of stemflow production and canopy interception loss, thereby increasing the relative stemflow and relative canopy interception loss and reducing the relative throughfall. The relative stemflow and relative canopy interception loss generally increased with increasing planting density, while the relative throughfall decreased with increasing planting density. During the two experimental years, mulching mode had no significant influence on net rainfall due to the compensation between throughfall and stemflow, whereas planting density significantly affected net rainfall. The highest grain yield and water use efficiency of dryland maize were obtained under the combination of medium planting density of 67,500 plants/hm2 and mulching mode of plastic-covered ridge with straw-covered furrow. Soil mulching can reduce soil evaporation and retain more soil water for dryland maize without reducing the net rainfall input beneath the maize canopy, which may alleviate the contradiction between high soil water consumption and insufficient rainfall input of the soil. In conclusion, the application of medium planting density (67,500 plants/hm2) under plastic-covered ridge with bare furrow is recommended for increasing dryland maize production on the Loess Plateau of China.

Key wordsdrylandmaize      throughfall      stemflow      canopy interception loss      yield      water use efficiency      Loess Plateau     
Received: 19 October 2017      Published: 10 October 2018
Corresponding Authors: Junliang FAN     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Jing ZHENG, Junliang FAN, Fucang ZHANG, Shicheng YAN, Jinjin GUO, Dongfeng CHEN, Zhijun LI. Mulching mode and planting density affect canopy interception loss of rainfall and water use efficiency of dryland maize on the Loess Plateau of China. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(5): 794-808.

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