Wheat and maize relay-planting with straw covering increases water use efficiency up to 46%.

Yin, W., Yu, A.Z., Chai, Q., Hu, F., Feng, F., and Gan, Y.T. (2015). "Wheat and maize relay-planting with straw covering increases water use efficiency up to 46%.", Agronomy for Sustainable Development , 35(2), pp. 815-825. doi : 10.1007/s13593-015-0286-1  Access to full text

Abstract

Family farms in populated countries must produce sufficient quantities of food to meet the ever-growing population needs. It is unknown whether innovated farming systems can alleviate this issue. Here, we carried out field experiments in arid northwest China from 2009 to 2012 to determine the response of water use, grain yield, and water use efficiency. We integrated crop intensification via relay-planting and straw mulching in the same system. Straw mulching included stubble standing, straw covering, or straw incorporation to the soil. Results show that wheat and maize relay-planting with straw mulching increased yields by up to 153 % versus mono-planting of maize and wheat. Straw covering approached the highest yield. Relay-planting with stubble standing or straw covering decreased water consumption by 4.6 %. The integrated systems increased water use efficiency by up to 46 % compared to conventional mono-planting maize and wheat.

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