Warmer and wetter soil stimulates assimilation more than respiration in rainfed agricultural ecosystem on the China loess plateau: The role of partial plastic film mulching tillage

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Abstract

Effects of agricultural practices on ecosystem carbon storage have acquired widespread concern due to its alleviation of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Recently, combining of furrow-ridge with plastic film mulching in spring maize ecosystem was widely applied to boost crop water productivity in the semiarid regions of China. However, there is still limited information about the potentials for increased ecosystem carbon storage of this tillage method. The objective of this study was to quantify and contrast net carbon dioxide exchange, biomass accumulation and carbon budgets of maize (Zea maize L.) fields under the traditional non-mulching with flat tillage (CK) and partial plastic film mulching with furrow-ridge tillage (MFR) on the China Loess Plateau. Half-hourly net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) of both treatments were synchronously measured with two eddy covariance systems during the growing seasons of 2011 through 2013. At same time green leaf area index (GLAI) and biomass were also measured biweekly. Compared with CK, the warmer and wetter (+1.3°C and +4.3%) top soil at MFR accelerated the rates of biomass accumulation, promoted greater green leaf area and thus shortened the growing seasons by an average value of 10.4 days for three years. MFR stimulated assimilation more than respiration during whole growing season, resulting in a higher carbon sequestration in terms of NEE of -79 gC/m2 than CK. However, after considering carbon in harvested grain (or aboveground biomass), there is a slight higher carbon sink (or a stronger carbon source) in MFR due to its greater difference of aboveground biomass than that of grain between both treatments. These results demonstrate that partial plastic film mulched furrow-ridge tillage with aboveground biomass exclusive of grain returned to the soil is an effective way to enhance simultaneously carbon sequestration and grain yield of maize in the semiarid regions.

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Gong, D., Hao, W., Mei, X., Gao, X., Liu, Q., & Caylor, K. (2015). Warmer and wetter soil stimulates assimilation more than respiration in rainfed agricultural ecosystem on the China loess plateau: The role of partial plastic film mulching tillage. PLoS ONE, 10(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0136578

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