Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2013
Publication Date: 10/28/2013
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/58742
Citation: Zhang, W., Li, Z., Gong, Y., Lu, X., Nielsen, D.C. 2013. Yield and water use of Siberian wildrye with ridge and furrow planting in northern China. Agronomy Journal. 105:1787-1796. Interpretive Summary: Water harvesting techniques have the potential to improve yields and water use efficiency in semi-arid environments. Planting crops in furrows with ridges in between furrows and covering the ridges with plastic mulch can limit evaporation and make more water available for crop production. The ridge and furrow system was tested for both dryland and single-irrigation production of alfalfa in the semi-arid North China Plain. The use of the ridge and furrow planting system with the ridge covered by a plastic mulch improved alfalfa yield and water use efficiency of both dryland and single-irrigation production systems compared with a flat planting bare soil production system.
Technical Abstract: Ridge and furrow planting (RFP) is an in-situ rainwater harvesting system that improves yield and water use efficiency (WUE) of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and other crops. However, insufficient and erratic precipitation limit yield in semiarid northern China. We studied the effects of RFP under non- and single-irrigated (NI and SI) alfalfa production on yield, WUE, evapotranspiration (ET), soil water, and forage growth from 2010 to 2011.Three NI treatments were flat bed planting (FPNI), RFP with bare ridge (BRNI), and RFP with plastic mulch ridge (MRNI). Three additional SI treatments included FPSI, BRSI and MRSI. Over 2 yr, RFP under NI treatments increased the total forage yield by 14 (BRNI) and 53% (MRNI) compared to flat bed planting (FP). Under SI, they increased forage yield by 53 and 107%, respectively. Under NI, RFP increased WUE by 17 (BRNI) and 74% (MRNI) compared to FP. Under SI, They increased forage yield by 54 and 120%, respectively. Under NI, RFP increased soil water storage, forage height, and canopy cover (CC) during the first growth period in both years. They increased aboveground biomass in 2011. Under SI, RFP increased forage height during the whole growth period, and CC and biomass during the first growth period in 2 yr. They only increased soil water storage in 2010. Under NI and SI, the MR treatments had lower ET than FP and BR treatments. Therefore, the results suggest that RFP with plastic mulch ridge will improve forage yield and WUE in both non- and single-irrigated alfalfa productions.