Flat (F), mini-ditch (MD), and ridge-furrow (RF) are three conventional cotton planting patterns that are usually adopted around the world, yet soil and crop responses to these three patterns are poorly studied, as is their suitability for increasing yield for coastal areas in Eastern China. The effects of three planting methods on water and salt dynamics as well as on growth and lint yield of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum
L.) were investigated in a saline field in Bohai Rim, China, to select the best planting pattern for cultivating coastal saline fields of Eastern China. Soil moisture in the root zone with RF was 11.9% and 12.1% higher than with F and MD, whereas the electrical conductivity of a saturated soil extract (ECe
) in the root zone with RF was 18.0% and 13.8% lower than with MD and F, respectively, during the growth period, which indicated that RF could efficiently collect rainfall and leach salt in the root zone. After drip irrigation, the infiltration and salt-leaching depth with RF were both deeper than that with F and MD. The stand establishment of MD was the highest (80.3%) due to the greenhouse effect from film mulching, and was 12.8% and 4.6% higher than that with F and RF, respectively. Growth indicators and lint yield demonstrated that RF was superior to F and MD because of the higher soil moisture and lower ECe
. The lint yield was significantly higher in RF, suggesting that RF can be an optimal planting pattern for agricultural reclamation in similar saline-alkaline areas around the world.
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