Effects of Different Mulching Materials on the Grain Yield and Water Use Efficiency of Maize in the North China Plain
Mulches combined with drip irrigation techniques have been widely applied in China for higher yield and water use efficiency (WUE). To develop an efficient strategy that can improve maize yield and save water in the North China Plain (NCP), we conducted a two-year field experiment, using transparent plastic film mulching (T), black plastic film mulching (B), and straw mulching (S) and non-mulching (N) for spring maize in 2019 and summer maize in 2020, and high drip irrigation amount (H) and low drip irrigation amount (L) were also considered in 2019. We mainly studied the effects of mulches on soil water content, soil temperature, crop growth rate, grain yield, and water use efficiency (WUE). The results indicated that T and B treatment increased soil water content (SWC) and topsoil temperature. The T treatment promoted the growth rate significantly more than N treatment, by 27.7&ndash;43.4% at the early stage in two years. The grain yield under TH treatment was significantly (p &lt; 0.05) higher than that of other treatments, by 9.8&ndash;17.4% for spring maize in 2019, and significantly (p &lt; 0.05) higher under both TH and BH than under NH, by 8.9% and 4.7% for summer maize in 2020. There was a significant quadratic parabola relationship between ET and grain yield in 2019, and the correlation between SEAT of 0&ndash;10 cm soil depth with grain yield or with biomass was positive. These results indicate that the transparent plastic film with high drip irrigation amount treatment (TH) can be recommended for spring maize, and both transparent and black film mulch treatments (TH and BH) can be recommended for summer maize in the NCP.