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Research on the Interdependence Linkages between Soil Tillage Systems and Climate Factors on Maize Crop

Agricultural Research and Development Station Turda, Agriculturii Street 27, 401100 Turda, Romania
Department of Technical and Soil Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca, Mănăstur Street 3-5, 400372 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Faculty of Environmental Protection, University of Oradea, General Magheru Street 26, 410087 Oradea, Romania
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2022, 11(10), 1731;
Submission received: 19 September 2022 / Revised: 30 September 2022 / Accepted: 3 October 2022 / Published: 6 October 2022
(This article belongs to the Section Soil-Sediment-Water Systems)


The experimental zone of the Transylvanian Plain is characterized by some particular problems for the maize crop due to an oscillating thermal regime; relatively shorter frost-free interval; climatic diversity; mixed relief; and soils with different peculiarities, even from one plot to another. This paper presents the results of research conducted during 2016–2021 regarding the influence of four soil tillage system and two fertilizer doses on emergences and maize yield, in the pedoclimatic conditions of the hilly area of the Transylvanian Plain. In all experimental years, a faster maize emergence was observed in the conventional-plow and minimum tillage—chisel compared to minimum tillage-disk and no-tillage. In a conventional system (control), the yield achieved (7603 kg ha−1) was close to the minimum tillage—chisel system (7529 kg ha−1), and higher than the minimum tillage-disk (6391 kg ha−1) and no-tillage (5178 kg ha−1). The beneficial effect of additional fertilization with CAN 27 (granular nitrogen fertilizer containing magnesium and calcium from dolomite) is found in a better development of plants and on the increase of yield with 356 kg ha−1 compared to the variant with basic fertilization. The yield difference between the two hybrids included in the experiment is insignificant (under 100 kg ha−1).

1. Introduction

Maize (Zea mays L.) is one of the most important crops worldwide, ranking first in terms of production [1] due to its multiple uses [2,3,4]: food, animal feed, production of alcohol, starch, dextrin, glucose, and maize oil. According to FAOSTAT data [5], in 2019 and 2020, in Europe, the areas cultivated with maize exceeded 18.3 and 19.4 million hectares, respectively; of these, over 2.68 million hectares were cultivated in Romania; in the last 10 years (2011–2021), the average maize production in Romania was between 3462 kg ha−1 (2015) and 7644 kg ha−1 (2018).
The prevention of soil erosion and organic content loss relies on selecting appropriate strategies for soil conservation, a suitable tillage system, and the application of efficient fertilization and implementation of sustainable crop rotations [6]. Conventional tillage systems (annual ploughing, repeated treatments for seedbed preparation with disk-harrows) have negative consequences on some soil physical characteristics [7], mechanical and water stability of aggregates [8,9], porosity, infiltration capacity, hydraulic conductivity [10], water holding capacity [11], stratification of organic matter and nutrients [12], activity and diversity of flora and fauna [13], carbon biomass [14], soil water, and temperature regime [15,16]. This practice is the most expensive, and is slow, with high demands for fuel and labor [17].
The conservation of soil fertility requires a tillage system that optimizes the plant needs in accordance with the soil modifications [18,19], and ensures the improvement of soil properties in order to obtain large and constant crops [20,21,22].
In the conventional tillage system, due to the long removal of vegetation, the lands are directly exposed to the action of precipitation and wind [23], causing the particles to detach and the erosion phenomenon to begin [24]. Instead, covering the soil with a layer of vegetable mulch protects the soil from large temperature variations [25], reduces the amplitude of thermal oscillations [26], avoids water loss by evaporation, and prevents weed growth [27,28,29,30,31].
The energy consumed when performing mechanical soil tillage is influenced by the pedoclimatic conditions [32], working depth of machines and equipment [33], plot area, working speed, type of equipment used [34], etc., and must be used appropriately to ensure the quality of works and to implicitly lower the productivity cost [35,36]. Energy consumption is different for each crop; as such, even in maize cultivation technology, the highest direct energy consumption per unit area is attributed to the soil tillage’s preparation [37].
The excessive use of fertilizers, especially nitrogen fertilizers, leads to soil acidification [38], water pollution, and absorption in plants, and has direct effects on consumer health [39,40].
The mechanization of agricultural practices needs to be adapted to the requirements of soil and water protection [41], and soil conservation practices are needed in many areas due to soil degradation caused by the use of conventional tillage systems [42]. Soil tillage systems are an essential maize-growing practice for successful production [13,43]. Tillage systems can significantly influence the maize yield through their effects on the soil [44,45].
It is difficult to predict the reaction of the maize crop to the tillage system, as the pro-ductions are influenced by several factors [46], such as the soil characteristics, microclimate, and the association of different practices (soil preparation, sowing dates, equipment used, crop rotation, hybrid used, fertilization, weed control) [10,16].
Minimum soil tillage systems and no-tillage have started to be practiced all over the world due to their benefits in reducing soil erosion [47]; soil moisture conservation; the production of organic soil materials; and the reduction of labor, fuel, and machinery costs [48].
Starting from the research hypothesis that the soil tillage system significantly influences the maize crop, through this research, we wanted to quantify the influence of climatic conditions (in long-term experience) on yield (in relation to maize hybrid and the soil tillage system). Thus, this paper presents the results of research conducted during 2016–2021 on the influence of four soil tillage systems (conventional-plow, minimum tillage—chisel, minimum tillage—disc, and no-tillage) and two moderate doses of fertilizers on maize yield in the pedoclimatic conditions of the Agricultural Research and Development Station Turda (ARDS Turda), located in the hilly area of the Transylvanian Plain, Romania.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Research Area

The experiment designed and carried out at the Agricultural Research and Development Station Turda (ARDS Turda) includes four tillage systems: conventional-plow, minimum tillage—chisel, minimum tillage—disc, and no-tillage, in a three-year crop rotation (soybean—winter; wheat—maize).
The perimeter of ARDS Turda is part of the Transylvanian Plain at its southwestern limit in the lower area of the Arieş river basin. The relief is represented by a hilly orographic framework in a dominant proportion of 71%, and specifically by low plateau hills with an altitude of 345–493 m, with different exposures and inclinations, in an advanced stage of erosion. The valleys between these hills, representing 11%, are relatively narrow, oriented mainly in the E–W direction, and have a faulty natural drainage. Groundwater is found at different depths, depending on the relief, reaching 1.5–2 m on valleys, 15–20 m on plateaus, and 0–18 m on slopes. They frequently form springs, which causes a temporary excess of water by flowing down the slope, and removes appreciable areas of land from the agricultural circuit.
The field was located on a Chernozem soil, with a loam-clay texture (41% clay content); neutral pH (6.9); humus content, 2.95%; total nitrogen, 0.211%; phosphorus, 23 ppm; and potassium, 283 ppm. Texture was determined by the Stokes sedimentation method, the Walkley–Black method was used for soil organic matter, and the potentiometric method was used to establish pH; total nitrogen was established using the Kjeldhal method; phosphorous and the content of potassium were established through the Egner–Riehm–Domingo extraction method.

2.2. Biological Materials

The biological material used is represented by two maize hybrids created at ARDS Turda, suitable for grains (Turda 332 and Turda 344).
Turda 332 is a simple hybrid registered in 2014. The characteristics of this hybrid are: a plant height of 241 ± 20 cm, the insertion of the main cob at a height of 90 ± 5 cm, 16–17 erect leaves, cylindrical cobs, weighing 216 ± 10 g, 18–22 rows of grains on the cob, and red rachis. The grain is semi-dentate and dark yellow. This hybrid stands out for its good resistance to low temperatures in the first part of the vegetation period, as well as a very good resistance to the falling and breaking of stems, drought, and heat, as well as to the attack of Ostrinia nubilalis. During the testing period, in order to be registered in the Official Catalogue of Romanian Varieties, in the conventional tillage system, the average yield was 9435 kg ha−1 [49].
Turda 344 is the only trilinear maize hybrid registered by ARDS Turda in 2017. The pronounced degree of diversification of parental genotypes gives it possibilities of adaptation to a wide range of ecological conditions. This hybrid is characterized by the following: plant height of 270 ± 20 cm, insertion of the main cob at 107±10 cm, leaves with semi-erect bearing, cylindrical cob weighing 195 ± 20 g, 18–20 rows of grains/cobs, red rachis, dent, light yellow grains. The hybrid shows very good resistance to low temperatures in the first part of the vegetation period; a good resistance to falling and breaking stems, drought, and heat; as well as a good-to-medium resistance to diseases and pests. In the experiences for the registration in the Official Catalogue of Romanian Varieties, in the three years of experimentation (2014–2016), in the conventional tillage system, it achieved an average yield of 9583 kg ha−1 [50].

2.3. Research Method

The experiment was based on a polyfactorial type, Ax Bx Cx D–R: 6x 2x 4x 2–2, according to the method of subdivided plots with two replications. The size of the experimental plots is 48 m2 (4 m width × 12 m length), and the total experimental surface is 2756 m2.
The experiment included four factors, as follows:
A—Experimental year (climatic conditions): a1, 2016; a2, 2017; a3, 2018; a4, 2019; a5, 2020; a6, 2021.
B—Biological material (hybrid): b1, Turda 332; b2, Turda 344.
C—Soil tillage system:
c1 Conventional System (CS), ploughed in autumn at a depth of 30 cm (Kuhn Huard Multi Master 125T plow); in the spring, the preparation of the seedbed (rotary harrow HRB 403 D), sown simultaneously with basic fertilization (MT-6 seeder), crop maintenance, and treatments (MET 1500), and harvested (manual).
c2 Minimum Tillage—Chisel (MTC), scarified with the chisel in autumn at a depth of 30 cm (Pinocchio 2.5 chisel); in the spring, the preparation of the seedbed (rotary harrow HRB 403 D), sown simultaneously with basic fertilization (MT-6 seeder), crop maintenance, and treatments (MET 1500), and harvested (manual).
c3 Minimum Tillage—Disk (MTD), disk in autumn at a 12 cm depth (Discovery 4 Heavy Disk); in the spring, the preparation of the seedbed (rotary harrow HRB 403 D), sown simultaneously with basic fertilization (MT-6 seeder), crop maintenance, and treatments (MET 1500), and harvested (manual).
c4 No-Tillage (NT), sown directly into uncultivated land with basic fertilization (MT-6 seeder), crop maintenance, and treatments (MET 1500), and harvested (manual).
D— Fertilization System: d1, basic fertilization at sowing with N56P56K56; d2, basic fertilization at sowing with N56P56K56 + additional fertilization with N40CaO10 applied in the maize phenophase of 6–7 leaves.
The sowing density was 65,000 plants ha−1, with the incorporated seed at a depth of 5 cm, and with a 70 cm distance between rows. The seed was treated with 1 l t−1 Maxim XL 035 FS (25 g l−1 fludioxonil + 10 g l−1 Metalaxil-M).
Sowing was carried out in all variants at the time: 19.IV.2016; 21.IV.2017; 04.V.2018; 16.IV.2019; 15.IV.2020; and 23.IV.2021.
Simultaneously with the sowing, the basic fertilization was applied, later completed on d2 by an additional fertilization in the phenophase of 6–7 leaves (intensive phase of fertilizer absorption). It should be noted that in this experiment, the established fertilizer doses were lower, primarily for economic reasons, but also for environmental protection according to the Green Deal project of the European Commission (20% reduction of chemical fertilizers).
Harvest was carried out in all variants at the time: 21.IX.2016; 28.IX.2017; 6.X.2018; 26.IX.2019; 25.IX.2020; and 28.IX.2021.
The climatic conditions for the experimental field (Turda Meteorological Station; lon-gitude, 23°47′; latitude, 46°35′; altitude, 427 m) are presented in the results, these being considered as an experimental factor in this paper.

2.4. Methods of Analysis and Processing Experimental Data

The harvestable plants’ number was determined by counting the plants on each variant (48 m2). The collection of the experimental plots included the following steps: collecting the protective strips around the samples; collecting the frontal and lateral margins of the experimental samples (frontal eliminations were of 1 m and lateral eliminations of 1 row of 0.70 m; collection of real experimental plots (35.6 m2); the maize yield (grains) obtained on each experimental lot was weighed and transformed to standard humidity for maize (14%)).
The valorization of the experimental data was realized through the analysis of the variant, using homogeneous data to separate the fluctuations of the experimental results. For this purpose, the F test was used to establish whether the differences between the experimental factors were real from a statistical point of view (significant—due to the studied factors) or only apparent (insignificant—due to some accidental errors). Experimental data were processed by statistical variant analysis with Anova PoliFact Soft [51], and the limit differences for p-values were established at 0.05, 0.01, and 0.001.

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Climate Conditions and the Impact on Maize Cultivation Technology

At the beginning of the growing season, the maize crop, as an effect of the climatic conditions, was infested with the dicotyledonous species, Chenopodium album, Amaranthus retroflexus, Cirsium arvense, Convolvulus arvensis, Sonchus arvensis, and Sinapis arvensis, and later with the annual and perennial grasses, Echinochloa crus-galli, Setaria glauca, Digitaria sanguinalis, and Elymus repens, which become dangerous in the summer months of July and August, being very competitive with maize in the supply of water and nutrients. The soil tillage system, herbicide use, and crop rotation have the greatest influence on crop weed infestation. The potential for weed infestation of maize crops is high, especially due to unfavorable climatic conditions [15,52,53], when there is a poor maize emergence and weeds are advancing rapidly in vegetation. It is known that before 1990, about 50% of the area cultivated with maize in the Transylvanian Plain used herbicides for this crop, with a very important role in weed control over large areas [16,49]. The use of maize herbicides has greatly diminished with the increasing importance of this crop in controlling the weeding of agricultural holdings [31,54].
In this experiment, the maintenance work started immediately after sowing, before the emergence of the crop, and consisted of a pre-emergent herbicide with 0.4 l ha−1, Merlin® Flexx (isoxaflutole 240 g l−1 and cyprosulfamide 240 g l−1) + 1.4 l ha−1 Optic Activ (dimethenamid-P 720 g l−1), followed by a second herbicide, post-emergence, with 1.0 l ha−1 Fluroxypyr EC (fluroxypir 250 g l−1) + 1.5 l ha−1 Nicogan 40 OD (nicosulfuron 40 g l−1). They had a very good effect on weeds, especially on the species, Cirsium arvense. Mention should be made of the reinfestation of the maize crop with the species, Xanthium strumarium (with staggered germination between April and June). The fruit of this species is an ovoid stalk with two compartments, each containing a seed [55,56]: one grows in the first year, and the second the following year, thus justifying, annually, the presence of this species in crops.
The main pests found in the maize crop are Agriotes spp., Diabrotica virgifera virgifera Le Conte, Ostrinia nubilalis (Hbn.), Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa Linnaeus, Schizaphis graminum (Rondani), and Phyllotreta vittula (Redtenbacher). The corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) is the main pest of maize crops in Transylvania, one of its favorable areas [57,58], which, in certain climatic conditions and non-compliance agrophytotechnical measures, can cause significant damage [59]. Due to the climatic conditions of May–June–July, which have changed in recent years [60] and no longer fit into the pattern of recent decades, the drill attack can be carried out with a different intensity from one year to another, so maize hybrids, tolerant to pest attacks, may become sensitive in favorable years [61]. The prevention and control of pests can be achieved by agrophytotechnical methods that involve a series of measures, including [59,61] the avoidance of monoculture, the destruction of weeds, the use of resistant and zoned varieties, the use of certified seeds, pheromone traps, etc., and by chemical methods (necessary in seed treatment with insecticides). The diseases that have manifested themselves in the maize crop are Ustilago maydis and Fusarium spp., favored by the conditions of humidity and temperature, but also by hail, as was the case in 2020.
Water is a primary element for agriculture, especially from precipitation, and, falling in different forms, leads to crop production. In conditions of the loosening of the soil, water from precipitation infiltrates in depth more easily, and the soil shows a greater capacity to retain it [62]. For the Transylvanian Plain, the optimal distribution of precipitation is [63]: May, 70 mm; June–July, 80–85 mm; August, 55 mm; and for September, under 50 mm, to avoid prolonging the ripening period of maize. Maize is a resistant plant for drought [64]; among the reasons for classifying maize as resistant to a lack of soil moisture are the well-developed deep root system and the twisting of the leaves to reduce transpiration in times of drought associated with high temperatures [65].
The data recorded at the Turda Meteorological Station indicate a monthly and annual increase in temperature, a warming of the weather being visible for the entire vegetation period of maize, starting from the sunrise phase. The average temperatures are lower than the multi-year period (Table 1): April 2017, April 2021, May 2016, May 2019, May 2020, and May 2021. The hottest months are: May 2018, −3.7 °C; June 2019, −3.8 °C; Jul 2021, −2.9 °C; VIII, −2.8 °C; September 2020, −2.6 °C. The dry year is 2018—the temperature is 2.5 times higher than the average.
Over the last three years, the average monthly temperature of April and May has decreased, being the only exceptions of average monthly temperatures during the growing season, with the other temperatures exceeding the multiannual average of 65 years; with deviations reaching up to 3–3.9 °C in the summer months when the reproductive organs of maize are formed, greatly affecting the elements of productivity [66]. It is important that after plant emergence, the temperatures do not drop below 4 °C, which is the temperature in which plants are affected by cold, with their growth being stopped [67]. During the research period, temperatures below this limit were not recorded.
Precipitation during the research period shows that the rainfall is lower than the multi-year period (Table 2): April 2018, April 2021, May 2020, June 2017, June 2021, July 2019, August 2017, August 2018, September 2016, September 2018, and September 2019. The rainiest months are: April 2016, April 2017, April 2019, May 2016, May 2019, June 2016, June 2020, July 2016, July 2017, July 2021, and August 2016. In 66.6% of the research period, the recorded precipitation was optimal for the maize crop.
In the research area, there is an uneven distribution of the amount of precipitation that fell between April and September. If we refer to the multi-year average for the six months, which represents 376.1 mm, higher values were recorded in 2016 (516.3 mm) and 2020 (431 mm), and were more reduced in 2018 (335 mm), and in the other years, the precipitation was closer in value to the normal for the period. More or less significant deviations from these average values were recorded, the biggest deviations being recorded in the pre-flowering and post-flowering period. Water stress is still a key factor limiting yield growth under conditions where crop production is dependent on rainfall conditions [68], although the interaction between the soil tillage system and soil water storage has the potential to optimize local climate resources during the maize growing season [69].

3.2. Influence of Experimental Factors on Maize Yield

In addition to the climatic factors and the soil tillage system, another important factor for the maize crop is the fact that the temperature and rainfall recorded after the sowing date change the time until emergence; in alternative tillage systems tested, where the soil temperature is lower, a delay in crop emergence was observed by 1–4 days compared to the conventional tillage system (Table 3).
During 2016–2021, on account of the longer period between the sowing and plant emergence, a change also occurred in terms of the sum of the useful thermal degrees, which have higher values in alternative soil tillage systems compared to the conventional tillage system (Figure 1). The lowest number of days between sowing and emergence was recorded in 2018, being closely related to the high temperatures. The sowing period in 2020 was characterized as dry, so it can be seen that the crop emergence was delayed, compared to other years studied, regardless of the tillage system.
The decrease of soil moisture below the limit of the minimum range, starting from the formation of the eighth leaf, has a negative impact on grain production [70], more or less, depending on the duration of the dry period [71,72], which is why it is very important that, during this period, the plants benefit from as much precipitation as possible. Taking into account the fact that precipitation is the only source of water available to the maize crop throughout the growing season [16,58], we can say that between maize production and the amount of rainfall in June, the period when the cobs are formed, there is an influencing factor, with the increase in the amount of precipitation positively influencing the production achieved in the six years (Figure 2).
To be able to dispose of all the water in the soil, at the level of the roots, it is important to avoid soil compaction [73], which leads to the compression of the pores and the reduction of access to the water stored in the soil [74]. This can be achieved by implementing conservative soil tillage systems.
The beneficial influence of tillage at greater depths (CS and MTC) for crop density on pre-harvest is presented in Table 4. In these variants, in all experimental years, the number was over 61,000 plants ha−1, except in 2016 in the MTC variant, where a smaller number of harvestable plants was determined, around 58,000 plants ha−1 in both maize hybrids. The lowest number of plants ha−1 was obtained in the variant without processing (NT 45,570–54,842 plants ha−1) and in the variant with surface tillage (MTD 48,335–58,931 plants ha−1). If the number of harvestable plants is averaged m−2 depending on the soil tillage system, over the entire studied period, it turns out that the Turda 332 hybrid made better use of the experimental conditions, with an average of 5.8 plants m−2 compared to the Turda 344 hybrid, with 5.7 plants m−2.
It seems that maize, in the soil conditions of Turda (Transilvanian Plain), lends itself less to cultivation in MTD and NT, requiring technology, as basic work, and the mobilization of the soil more intensively and deeply, such as ploughing with a plow or chisel, or using an MT-6 seeder for sowing. Similar results were obtained by Marin et al. [75] in the southern area of Romania for maize cultivated in different soil tillage variants (plough, chisel, disc), with ploughing determining the greatest number of harvestable plants (4.77 plants m−2), followed by the chisel variant (4.65 plants m−2) and disk (4.52 plants m−2).
The analysis of variance (Table 5) shows that the maize yield was significantly influenced by climatic conditions during the experimentation period. Compared to the average yield in the six years, the yield differences recorded in the other years show negative values in 2016 and 2019 (000); positive in 2018, 2020, and 2021 (***); and insignificant in 2017 (ns). Even if the rainfall regime was higher in the summer months of June–July, as was the case in 2016, the distribution of precipitation was uneven, and after longer periods of drought, torrential rains followed.
The difference between the two hybrids is insignificant (only 53 kg ha−1) for the Turda 332 hybrid, considered as a control, where the yield was 6702 kg ha−1, and 6649 kg ha−1 for the Turda 344 hybrid, according to the data presented in Table 6.
In SC, considered as a control, the yield achieved (7603 kg ha−1) was close in value to that obtained in the MTC system (7529 kg ha−1) and higher than the MTD (6391 kg ha−1) and NT systems (5178 kg ha−1), with these having a negative influence on the crop formation, and the difference from the control being between 1212 and 2425 kg ha−1 (Table 7). The data obtained show that maize is affected by the depth of soil mobilization, using an MT-6 seeder for sowing, with the yield data confirming this fact.
Videnović et al. [76] obtained similar results in Serbia on the chernozem soil type. The ten-year yield average was the highest in the conventional tillage system (10.61 t ha−1) when compared with the yield obtained in reduced-tillage (8.99 t ha−1) and no-tillage systems (6.85 t ha−1).
The beneficial effect of the additional fertilization with N40CaO10 can be seen in the better development of plants and on the increase of yield. The difference of 356 kg ha−1 compared to the variant with basic fertilization (control) presents a very significant positive statistical assurance (Table 8).
Fertilization was carried out with moderate doses of chemical fertilizers, and after sowing, we entered the field only for the application of additional fertilization and chemical treatments to control diseases, weeds, and pests. When there were optimal conditions for this crop, maize hybrids included in the experiment had yields exceeding 8000 kg ha−1 (Table 9). The highest yields were recorded in CS at second fertilization, followed by those obtained at MTC and additional fertilization.

4. Conclusions

The climatic conditions of the experimental years can influence the production of maize by-524 to + 623 kg ha−1 (compared to the average of the experimental years), the maize hybrid by ±52 kg ha−1, and the soil tillage system by up to −2425 kg ha−1. These results lead us to recommend to farmers the use of several maize hybrids within the farm (as a measure of adaptation to climate changes), but also the application of good agrotechnical practices to conserve water in the soil; the choice of the soil tillage system requires different agricultural techniques and technology, applied differently depending on the soil conditions. Due to the reduction in yield and delay in germination caused by the MTD and NT treatments, we recommend delayed planting by 5–6 days compared to the CS, so that the soil warms up.
The experimental results obtained between 2016 and 2021 highlighted the fact that in the soil conditions in the study area, the MTC system can be considered as an alternative to CS, and the difference in the yield between the two systems is insignificant. These results were obtained using the same seeding machine in all variants, respectively: the MT-6 seeder.
Additional fertilization brings an increase in the yield of about 400 kg ha−1. It should be noted that lower doses of fertilizer were used in this experiment, in accordance with the rules of the European Commission’s Green Deal project.
The success of the maize crop is dependent on climatic conditions, with the soil moisture and sowing temperatures being especially important, influencing the start of vegetation and crop density (also influenced by the sowing conditions and the sowing machine), and precipitations in June–July, their distribution in particular, also affecting the conditions of the maize crop.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, F.C. and T.R.; methodology, F.C. and M.B.; software, A.C. and A.Ş.; formal analysis, F.C.; investigation, F.C. and M.B.; resources, C.C. and R.E.C.; data curation, F.C., A.Ş. and O.S.M.; writing—original draft preparation, F.C.; writing—review and editing, T.R.; visualization, R.E.C., A.C. and O.S.M.; supervision, T.R. and C.C.; project administration, F.C.; funding acquisition, T.R. and F.C. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences of Romania, Project CDI-PCC5 no. 1229/2018: Studies and research regarding the achievement of the production and quality of the harvest of the new maize cultivars created in ARDS Turda, in a complex experiment with soil tillage systems and organic fertilization systems, in the pedoclimatic conditions specific to the hilly areas of the Transylvanian Plain, 2019–2023.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.


We would like to thank the Agricultural Research and Development Station Turda (ARDS Turda) for the logistics in organizing research in the experimental field.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. Influence of climatic conditions and the soil tillage system on the emergence of culture, 2016–2021. Notes: CS = Conventional System; MTC = Minimum Tillage—Chisel; MTD = Minimum Tillage—Disk; NT = No-Tillage.
Figure 1. Influence of climatic conditions and the soil tillage system on the emergence of culture, 2016–2021. Notes: CS = Conventional System; MTC = Minimum Tillage—Chisel; MTD = Minimum Tillage—Disk; NT = No-Tillage.
Land 11 01731 g001
Figure 2. Relationship between June rainfall and maize yield, 2016–2021.
Figure 2. Relationship between June rainfall and maize yield, 2016–2021.
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Table 1. Thermal regime during April–September, 2016–2021, at Turda.
Table 1. Thermal regime during April–September, 2016–2021, at Turda.
Year/MonthMonthly Temperature, °CAverage
65 years10.
Table 2. The rainfall regime during April–September, 2016–2021, at Turda.
Table 2. The rainfall regime during April–September, 2016–2021, at Turda.
Year/MonthMonthly Rainfall, mmSum
65 years45.669.484.678.056.142.4376.1
Table 3. The emergence of the maize crop depending on the tillage variant, 2016–2021.
Table 3. The emergence of the maize crop depending on the tillage variant, 2016–2021.
YearSowing DateHybridSoil Tillage System/Emergence Date
201619.IVTurda 33230.IV30.IV02.V02.V
Turda 34429.IV29.IV03.V03.V
201721.IVTurda 33205.V05.V07.V06.V
Turda 34404.V04.V03.V06.V
201804.VTurda 33214.V15.V15.V16.V
Turda 34415.V15.V16.V17.V
201916.IVTurda 33227.IV28.IV27.IV26.IV
Turda 34429.IV28.IV30.IV28.IV
202015.IVTurda 33204.V04.V06.V03.V
Turda 34403.V02.V02.V01.V
202123.IVTurda 33205.V05.V04.V07.V
Turda 34405.V06.V06.V08.V
Notes: CS = Conventional System; MTC = Minimum Tillage—Chisel; MTD = Minimum Tillage—Disk; NT = No-Tillage.
Table 4. Influence of experimental factors on the number of harvestable plants m−2, 2016–2021.
Table 4. Influence of experimental factors on the number of harvestable plants m−2, 2016–2021.
HybridSoil Tillage SystemYear-Climatic Condition
201620172018201920202021Average Plants m−2
Number of Plants m−2
Turda 332CS6.116.336.396.146.406.326.28
Turda 344CS6.
Notes: CS = Conventional System; MTC = Minimum Tillage—Chisel; MTD = Minimum Tillage—Disk; NT = No-Tillage.
Table 5. Influence of climatic conditions on maize average yield, 2016–2021.
Table 5. Influence of climatic conditions on maize average yield, 2016–2021.
Experimental FactorsYield, kg ha−1%Differences, ±ct.
Year-Climatic conditions(A)Years average6675100ct.
a1 2016621593–460 000
a2 2017662799–48 ns
a3 20186886103211 **
a4 2019615092–524 000
a5 20207298109623 ***
a6 20216874103199 **
Notes: LSD (5%) = 110 kg ha−1, LSD (1%) = 173 kg ha−1, LSD (0.1%) = 294 kg ha−1; ct. = control; **, *** = significant at 1% and 0.1% probability levels, positive values; 000 = significant at 0.1% probability levels, negative values; ns = not significant.
Table 6. Influence of the hybrid on maize average yield, 2016–2021.
Table 6. Influence of the hybrid on maize average yield, 2016–2021.
Experimental FactorsYield, kg ha−1%Differences, ±ct.
Hybrid (B)b1 Turda 3326702100ct.
b2 Turda 34466499953 0
Notes: LSD (5%) = 51 kg ha1, LSD (1%) = 77 kg ha1, LSD (0.1%) = 124 kg ha1; ct. = control; 0 = significant at 5% probability levels, negative values.
Table 7. Influence of the tillage system on maize average yield, 2016–2021.
Table 7. Influence of the tillage system on maize average yield, 2016–2021.
Experimental FactorsYield, kg ha−1%Differences, ±ct.
Soil tillage system (C)c1 CS7603100ct.
c2 MTC752999–74 0
c3 MTD639184–1212 000
c4 NT517868–2425 000
Notes: CS = Conventional System; MTC = Minimum Tillage—Chisel; MTD = Minimum Tillage—Disk; NT = No-Tillage; LSD (5%) = 73 kg ha1, LSD (1%) = 97 kg ha1, LSD (0.1%) = 128 kg ha1; ct. = control; 0, 000 = significant at 5% and 0.1% probability levels, negative values.
Table 8. Influence of the fertilization on maize average yield, 2016–2021.
Table 8. Influence of the fertilization on maize average yield, 2016–2021.
Experimental FactorsYield, kg ha−1%Differences, ±ct.
Fertilization (D)d1 N56P56K566497100ct.
d2 N56P56K56 + N40CaO106853106356 ***
Notes: LSD (5%) = 42 kg ha1, LSD (1%) = 56 kg ha1, LSD (0.1%) = 73 kg ha1; ct. = control; *** = significant at 0.1% probability levels, positive values.
Table 9. Yield obtained at Turda when favorable conditions are met, 2016–2021.
Table 9. Yield obtained at Turda when favorable conditions are met, 2016–2021.
HybridSoil Tillage SystemYear/Yield, kg ha−1Yield
T332CS I fert6779770878846497827573757420
CS II fert7347813783706777868878247857
T344CS I fert6697763374636348835875547342
CS II fert7397811581276762842379377794
T332MTC I fert6633736779946451819274997356
MTC II fert7195796983876813857777407780
T344MTC I fert6544742376346425828676037319
MTC II fert7088784581956619833378407653
T332MTD I fert5831595764046113661566086255
MTD II fert6109622866276346697671696576
T344MTD I fert5857593963226136653167316253
MTD II fert6090624165816197681270596497
T332NT I fert4640464149395160549450624989
NT II fert4958515753625458601853205379
T344NT I fert4743464346395172527151574938
NT II fert4982501352525160592655055306
Notes: CS = Conventional System; MTC = Minimum Tillage—Chisel; MTD = Minimum Tillage—Disk; NT = No-Tillage; I fert = basic fertilization at sowing with N56P56K56; II fert = basic fertilization at sowing with N56P56K56 + additional fertilization with N40CaO10 applied in the maize phenophase of 6–7 leaves.
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Cheţan, F.; Rusu, T.; Călugăr, R.E.; Chețan, C.; Şimon, A.; Ceclan, A.; Bărdaș, M.; Mintaș, O.S. Research on the Interdependence Linkages between Soil Tillage Systems and Climate Factors on Maize Crop. Land 2022, 11, 1731.

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Cheţan F, Rusu T, Călugăr RE, Chețan C, Şimon A, Ceclan A, Bărdaș M, Mintaș OS. Research on the Interdependence Linkages between Soil Tillage Systems and Climate Factors on Maize Crop. Land. 2022; 11(10):1731.

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Cheţan, Felicia, Teodor Rusu, Roxana Elena Călugăr, Cornel Chețan, Alina Şimon, Adrian Ceclan, Marius Bărdaș, and Olimpia Smaranda Mintaș. 2022. "Research on the Interdependence Linkages between Soil Tillage Systems and Climate Factors on Maize Crop" Land 11, no. 10: 1731.

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