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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Technologies for Managing Water and Sediment Movement in Agricultural Watersheds

Location: Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit

Title: Organic manure as an alternative to crop residues for no-tillage wheat-maize systems in North China Plain

Authors
item Dai, Xiao -
item Li, Yunsheng -
item Ouyang, Zhu -
item Wang, Hui -
item Wilson, Glenn

Submitted to: Field Crops Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 28, 2013
Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/58370
Citation: Dai, X.Q., Li, Y., Ouyang, Z., Wang, H.M., Wilson, G.V. 2013. Organic manure as an alternative to crop residues for no-tillage wheat-maize systems in North China Plain. Field Crops Research. 149:141-148.

Interpretive Summary: No-till can provide both environmental and economic benefits that has been found in many areas of the world to be a practice that can maintain agricultural productivity into the future. No-till has caused some concerns in the North China Plain (NCP) such as lower crop yields and shortage of animal foods due to keeping crop residues on the soil surface. The objective of this study was to explore whether or not manure inputs are a good alternative to crop residue in no-till wheat and corn systems in the NCP. Field experiments were started in October 2004 that included three management operations: conventional tillage with residue removed (CTr), NT with crop residue left on soil surface (NTc), and NT with manure inputs (NTm). Each of these treatments had two fertilizer application practices: splitting fertilizer inputs (SF) and concentrating fertilizer inputs in a single application (CF). Crop yield, soil properties and weed population were measured in this wheat-corn double crop system. Compared to CTr, NT reduced wheat biomass and grain yield by 4% and 6%, respectively, for NTc, and 5% and 4%, respectively, for NTm. Tillage treatments and the use of manure instead of residue left on the surface had no bad effects on corn biomass and yield. Fertilizer application practices had no effects on biomass and yield of both crops. The bulk density increased under NT after just four years as did soil water content, and soil organic matter of the surface soil. The increase in soil organic matter in NTm was higher than in NTc. Both NTc and NTm prevented the spread of weeds in these wheat fields. The CF inhibited weed growth compared to the SF. The manure inputs were found to be a good alternative to crop residue in this NT system in NCP for both wheat and corn production and most soil properties.

Technical Abstract: NT can provide both environmental and economic benefits and has been recognized as a sustainable land use practice in many areas worldwide. NT has induced some concerns in the North China Plain (NCP), e.g. unstable crop yield and fodder shortage, with regards to the amount of crop residues retained on the soil surface. The objective of this study was to explore whether or not manure inputs are a viable alternative to crop residue in no-till wheat and maize rotation systems in NCP. Field experiments were initiated in October 2004 including three management operations: conventional tillage (CT), NT with crop residue left on soil surface (NTc), and NT with manure inputs (NTm); and two fertilizer application practices: splitting fertilizer inputs (SF) and concentrated fertilizer inputs (CF). These three main effect and two subeffect treatments were arranged in a randomized complete block design, with three replications, and continued over a 4-year period. Crop yield, soil properties and weed population were measured in a wheat-maize double crop system. Compared to CT, NT significantly reduced wheat biomass and grain yield by 4% and 6%, respectively, for NTc, and 5% and 4%, respectively, for NTm. Tillage treatments had no significant effects on maize biomass and yield. Fertilizer application practices had no significant effects on biomass and yield of both crops. Continuous NT for 4 years significantly increased the bulk density, soil water content, soil organic C of the surface soil, but decreased the soil EC. The increase in soil organic C in NTm was higher than in NTc. Although soil EC decreased less in NTm than in NTc, the effects of soil EC could be neglected in the study. The NTc or NTm significantly inhibited the dominant weed in wheat field. The CF inhibited the flixweed growth compared to the SF. The manure inputs were found to be a viable alternative to crop residue in this NT wheat-maize system in the NCP.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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