Working Paper Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Conservation Tillage Increases Water Use Efficiency of Spring Wheat by Optimizing Water Transfer in a Semi-Arid Environment

Version 1 : Received: 8 August 2019 / Approved: 9 August 2019 / Online: 9 August 2019 (04:11:21 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Peng, Z.; Wang, L.; Xie, J.; Li, L.; Coulter, J.A.; Zhang, R.; Luo, Z.; Kholova, J.; Choudhary, S. Conservation Tillage Increases Water Use Efficiency of Spring Wheat by Optimizing Water Transfer in a Semi-Arid Environment. Agronomy 2019, 9, 583. Peng, Z.; Wang, L.; Xie, J.; Li, L.; Coulter, J.A.; Zhang, R.; Luo, Z.; Kholova, J.; Choudhary, S. Conservation Tillage Increases Water Use Efficiency of Spring Wheat by Optimizing Water Transfer in a Semi-Arid Environment. Agronomy 2019, 9, 583.

Journal reference: Agronomy 2019, 9, 583
DOI: 10.3390/agronomy9100583

Abstract

Water availability is a major constraint for spring wheat production on the western Loess Plateau of China. The impact of tillage practices on water potential, water potential gradient, water transfer resistance, yield, and water use efficiency (WUEg) of spring wheat was monitored on the western Loess Plateau in 2016 and 2017. Six tillage practices were assessed, including conventional tillage with no straw (T), no-till with straw cover (NTS), no-till with no straw (NT), conventional tillage with straw incorporated (TS), conventional tillage with plastic mulch (TP), and no-till with plastic mulch (NTP). No-till with straw cover, TP, and NTP significantly improved soil water potential and root water potential at the seedling stage and leaf water potential at the seedling, tillering, jointing, and flowering stages, compared to T. These treatments also significantly reduced the soil-leaf water potential gradient at the 0-10 cm soil layer at the seedling stage and at the 30-50 cm soil layer at flowering, compared to T. Thus, NTS, TP, and NTP reduced soil-leaf water transfer resistance and enhanced transpiration. Compared to T, the NTS, TP, and NTP treatments significantly increased biomass yield (BY) by 18, 36, and 40%, respectively, and grain yield (GY) by 28, 22, and 24%, respectively, with corresponding increases in WUEg of 24, 26, and 24%, respectively. These results demonstrate that NTS, TP, and NTP improved GY and WUEg of spring wheat by decreasing the soil-leaf water potential gradient and soil-leaf water transfer resistance and enhancing transpiration, and are suitable tillage practices for sustainable intensification of wheat production in semi-arid areas.

Subject Areas

conservation tillage; water potential; water potential gradient; water transfer resistance; water use efficiency

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