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Open AccessArticle

The Effects of Biodegradable Mulch Film on the Growth, Yield, and Water Use Efficiency of Cotton and Maize in an Arid Region

by Lu Deng 1,2,3, Yang Yu 1,*, Haiyan Zhang 1, Qian Wang 1 and Ruide Yu 1,4
State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
The Institute of Economic Research of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Development and Reform Commission, Urumqi 830000, China
School of Environment and Material Science, Yantai University, Yantai 264005, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7039;
Received: 19 October 2019 / Revised: 4 December 2019 / Accepted: 6 December 2019 / Published: 9 December 2019
Plastic residual film pollution in China is severe, and the use of degradable mulch film instead of plastic mulch can effectively alleviate this situation. The substitution of common polyethylene plastic mulch film with biodegradable mulch film in the agricultural production of cotton and maize in an arid region was investigated in the present study. Using bare soil as the control, we compared the effects of common polyethylene plastic film and biodegradable mulch film on crop growth, yield, and water use efficiency (WUE) in maize and cotton. The results indicated that: (1) the biodegradable mulch film in this region remained intact for 60 days after being laid down, significantly degrading after 120 days, and was associated with increased soil temperature, moisture conservation, and degradability in comparison to a bare soil control; (2) Both the biodegradable mulch film and the polyethylene plastic film significantly increased various physiological parameters, such as crop height, stalk diameter, and leaf area; (3) The biodegradable mulch film had a significant effect on crop yield by 69.4–76.2% and 65.2–71.9%, respectively, compared to the bare soil control. (4) Compared to the bare soil control, the biodegradable mulch film effectively increased WUE in the crops by 64.5–73.1%. In summary, biodegradable mulch film had comparable results to the common polyethylene plastic film in increasing crop growth, yield, and WUE. As the biodegradable mulch film causes no residual pollution, it is thus preferable to common plastic mulch film for agricultural applications in arid regions and supports the sustainable development of agroecosystems. Therefore, the use of degradable mulch films in agricultural production is more environmentally friendly and more conducive to the sustainable development of agricultural systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: agroecosystem; polyethylene; Xinjiang; sustainable agriculture; drip irrigation agroecosystem; polyethylene; Xinjiang; sustainable agriculture; drip irrigation
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Deng, L.; Yu, Y.; Zhang, H.; Wang, Q.; Yu, R. The Effects of Biodegradable Mulch Film on the Growth, Yield, and Water Use Efficiency of Cotton and Maize in an Arid Region. Sustainability 2019, 11, 7039.

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