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Water 2016, 8(11), 504; doi:10.3390/w8110504

Combined Effects of Mulch and Tillage on Soil Hydrothermal Conditions under Drip Irrigation in Hetao Irrigation District, China

1
State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Resources, Yangling 712100, China
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
3
College of Water Resources and Architectural Engineering, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
4
Key Laboratory of Plant Nutrition and the Agri-Environment in Northwest China, Ministry of Agriculture, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
5
Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A8, Canada
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Timothy R. Green
Received: 28 August 2016 / Revised: 25 October 2016 / Accepted: 26 October 2016 / Published: 3 November 2016
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Abstract

Soil hydrothermal condition is one of the most important factors affecting crop growth in arid regions. This study aimed to investigate the effect of mulching and tillage on moisture and temperature variations in soil under drip irrigation in the arid Hetao Irrigation District, northwest China. Four treatments were included: (1) alternating ridges (40 cm wide and 20 cm high) and furrows (40 cm wide) with plots fully mulched with plastic film (RFM); (2) alternating ridges (40 cm wide and 20 cm high) and furrows (40 cm wide) with partial film mulch (only the plant rows mulched) (RPM); (3) flat tillage with plots fully mulched with plastic film (FFM); and (4) flat tillage with partial film mulch (only the plant rows mulched) (FPM). The ridge tillage and plastic film increased soil temperature and significantly conserved soil water, and thus increased the maize yield and water use efficiency (WUE). The RFM treatment had a greater effect than the RPM, FFM, and FPM treatments on the soil moisture and water storage over 0–70 cm in depth during the entire growing period in 2014 and 2015, indicating that full transparent plastic film mulch increased soil water status and promoted deep water percolation, and ridge tillage further enhanced water redistribution to deep soils. Furthermore, RFM proportionally increased soil temperature by 0.36 °C, 1.49 °C, and 1.27 °C above the temperatures under RPM, FPM, and FFM, respectively, in 2014 and by 1.19 °C, 1.62 °C, and 0.35 °C, respectively, in 2015. During the drought year of 2014, tillage influenced temperature more than mulching; however, mulching played a more important role in preserving thermal conditions than tillage during the humid year of 2015. Consequently, RFM increased the maize yield and WUE significantly. We conclude that a combined system of full plastic film mulch and ridge tillage creates beneficial soil hydrothermal conditions under drip irrigation and thus promotes the growth and performance of field crops. View Full-Text
Keywords: mulch; drip irrigation; ridge tillage; soil temperature; soil moisture mulch; drip irrigation; ridge tillage; soil temperature; soil moisture
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Qi, Z.; Zhang, T.; Zhou, L.; Feng, H.; Zhao, Y.; Si, B. Combined Effects of Mulch and Tillage on Soil Hydrothermal Conditions under Drip Irrigation in Hetao Irrigation District, China. Water 2016, 8, 504.

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