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Response of Soil Temperature, Moisture, and Spring Maize (Zea mays L.) Root/Shoot Growth to Different Mulching Materials in Semi-Arid Areas of Northwest China

1
College of Agronomy, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
2
The Research Center of Maize Engineering and Technology of Shaanxi Province, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
3
College of Forestry, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 453; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040453
Received: 24 February 2020 / Revised: 13 March 2020 / Accepted: 21 March 2020 / Published: 25 March 2020
Adaptive highly efficient mulching technologies for use on dryland agricultural ecosystems are crucial to improving crop productivity and water-use efficiency (WUE) under climate change. Little information is available on the effect of using different types of mulch on soil water thermal conditions, or on root/shoot trait, leaf area index (LAI), leaf area duration (LAD), yield, and WUE of spring maize. Hence, in this study, white transparent plastic film (WF), black plastic film (BF), and maize straw (MS) was used, and the results were compared with a non-mulched control (CK). The results showed that the mean soil temperature throughout the whole growth period of maize at the 5–15 cm depth under WF and BF was higher than under MS and CK, but under BF, it was 0.6 °C lower than WF. Compared with CK, the average soil water storage (0–200 cm) over the whole growth period of maize was significantly increased under WF, BF, and MS. WF and BF increased the soil water and temperature during the early growth stages of maize and significantly increased root/shoot biomass, root volume, LAI, LAD, and yield compared with MS. Higher soil temperatures under WF obviously reduced the duration of maize reproductive growth and accelerated root and leaf senescence, leading to small root/shoot biomass accumulation post-tasseling and to losses in yield compared with BF View Full-Text
Keywords: spring maize; mulching types; soil temperature; soil moisture; growth and development spring maize; mulching types; soil temperature; soil moisture; growth and development
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lu, H.; Xia, Z.; Fu, Y.; Wang, Q.; Xue, J.; Chu, J. Response of Soil Temperature, Moisture, and Spring Maize (Zea mays L.) Root/Shoot Growth to Different Mulching Materials in Semi-Arid Areas of Northwest China. Agronomy 2020, 10, 453.

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