Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 10, pp 9524–9535 | Cite as

Year-round film mulching system with monitored fertilization management improve grain yield and water and nitrogen use efficiencies of winter wheat in the dryland of the Loess Plateau, China

  • Tingliang Li
  • Yinghe XieEmail author
  • Zhiqiang Gao
  • Jianping Hong
  • Li Li
  • Huisheng Meng
  • Hongmei Ma
  • Junxiang Jia
Research Article


Year-round film mulching in winter wheat field facilitates rainwater storage in summer fallow period and reduces water evaporation in growing reason, and then increases water use efficiency in the dryland of the Loess Plateau, China. Optimized fertilization further promotes fertilizer utilization efficiencies. In this study, plastic film mulching was extended from plant growth season to summer fallow, and fertilizers were applied by monitoring soil nutrient availability. Field trials were conducted in the dryland of the Loess Plateau over 4 years by using four types of cultivation to investigate the effects of year-round plastic film mulching with monitored fertilization on utilization efficiencies of rainwater and nitrogen (N), and winter wheat yield. The four types of cultivation were farmer practice (FP), ridge-furrow with plastic film mulching system plus conventional fertilization(RPCF), ridge-furrow with plastic film mulching system plus monitored fertilization (RPFM), and flat soil surface with plastic film mulching system plus monitored fertilization (FPFM). Our results indicate that the average yield of winter wheat in RPFM and FPFM treatments was 4491 kg ha−1. Compared with FP treatment, the combined effects of monitored fertilization and film mulching(RPFM and FPFM treatments) could increase grain yield in the range of 24.7 to 42.1%. The film mulching extended to the fallow season increased the water storage in 2 m depth of soil profile, and the amount of soil water storage in the summer fallow period increased by 27 to 30% in FPFM treatment than FP treatment. After 4-year consecutive planting of wheat, the accumulation of nitrate-N in 2 m soil reached 277 kg·ha−1 in the FP treatment, which is 87.7% higher than of the level at the beginning of the experiment. Seventy-five percent of nitrate-N was distributed in the soil layer of 0–120 cm. In addition, the residual nitrate-N showed downward leaching with rainfall during the experiment. The RPFM and FPFM treatments reduced the apparent loss and residual levels of soil N, whereas increased its apparent mineralization compared with FP treatment. The FPFM treatment exhibited a greater utilization of residual nitrate-N from previous years and showed a higher amount of the mineralized N from soil organic matter, therefore leading to a relatively high apparent utilization rate of N (56.7%). Considering both grain yield production and utilization efficiencies of water and N, FPFM with year-round mulching was the most effective cultivation measure for winter wheat in the Loess Plateau.


Film mulching Monitored fertilization Winter wheat yield Water and N use efficiencies Loess plateau 



We are grateful to Dr. Gang He and Prof. CY Huang for English editing.

Funding information

This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2018YFD0200401), the National Key Research and Development Program of Shanxi (201803D221005-2), the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (201303104;201503124), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31771727).


  1. Adhikari R, Bristow KL, Caseya PS, Freischmidt G, Hornbuckle JW, Adhikari B (2016) Preformed and sprayable polymeric mulch film to improve agricultural water use efficiency. Agr Water Manage 169:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ali S, Xu YY, Jia QM, Ahmad I, Wei T, Ren XL, Zhang P, Din RX, Cai T, Jia ZK (2018) Cultivation techniques combined with deficit irrigation improves winter wheat photosynthetic characteristics, dry matter translocation and water use efficiency under simulated rainfall conditions. Agr Water Manage 201:207–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cao HB, Wang ZH, Shi YC, Du MY, Lei XQ, Zhang WZ, Zhang L, Pu YJ (2014) Optimization of nitrogen fertilizer recommendation technology based on soil test for winter wheat on Weibei Dryland. Sci Agric Sin 47:3826–3838 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  4. Cao HB, Wang ZL, He G, Dai J, Huang M, Wang S, Luo LC, Sadras VO, Hoogmoed M, Malhi SS (2017) Tailoring NPK fertilizer application to precipitation for dryland winter wheat in the Loess Plateau. Field Crop Res 209:88–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Daryanto S, Wang L, Jacinthe PA (2017) Can ridge-furrow plastic mulching replace irrigation in dryland wheat and maize cropping systems? Agr Water Manage 190:1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dai J, Wang ZH, Li MH, He G, Li Q, Cao HB, Wang S, Gao YJ, Hui XL (2016) Winter wheat grain yield and summer nitrate-N leaching: long-term effects of N and phosphorus rates on the Loess Plateau of China. Field Crop Res 196:180–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ding DY, Zhao Y, Feng H, Hilld RL, Chu XS, Zhang TB, He JQ (2018) Soil water utilization with plastic mulching for a winter wheat-summer maize rotation system on the Loess Plateau of China. Agr Water Manage 201:246–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dong QG, Yang YC, Yu K, Fen H (2018) Effects of straw mulching and plastic film mulching on improving soil organic carbon and N fractions, crop yield and water use efficiency in the Loess Plateau, China. Agr Water Manage 201:133–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eldoma IM, Li M, Zhang F, Li FM (2016) Alternate or equal ridge–furrow pattern: which is better for maize production in the rain-fed semi-arid Loess Plateau of China? Field Crop Res 191:131–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gao YJ, Li Y (2009) Effects of mulch, N fertilizer, and plant density on wheat yield, wheat N uptake, and residual soil nitrate-N in a dryland area of China. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 85:109–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gong YH, Yang JF, Wang JR, Li SX, Liu PL (2007) Effect of film-mulching on the remobilization and distribution of 14C-reserves in wheat grain-filling stage. Sci Agric Sin 40:258–263 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  12. Gu XB, Li YN, Du YD (2017) Optimized N fertilizer application improves yield, water and N use efficiencies of winter rapeseed cultivated under continuous ridges with film mulching. Ind Crop Prod 109:233–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hartmanna TE, Yue SC, Schulz R, Chen XP, Zhang FS, Müller T (2014) N dynamics, apparent mineralization and balance calculations in a maize – wheat double cropping system of the North China plain. Field Crop Res 160:22–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. He G, Wang ZH, Li FC, Dai J, Li Q, Xue C, Cao HB, Wang S, Malhi SS (2016) Soil water storage and winter wheat productivity affected by soil surface management and precipitation in dryland of the Loess Plateau. Agr Water Manage 171:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. He G, Wang ZH, Li SX, Malhi SS (2018) Plastic mulch: tradeoffs between productivity and greenhouse gas emissions. J Clean Prod 172:1311–1318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Huang M, Wang ZL, Luo LC, Wang S, Hui XL, He G, Cao HB, Ma XL, Huang TM, Zhao Y, Diao CP, Zheng XF, Zhao HB, Liu JS, Malhid SS (2017) Soil testing at harvest to enhance productivity and reduce nitrate-N residues in dryland wheat production. Field Crop Res 212:153–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jiang R, Li X, Zhu W, Wang K, Guo S, Misselbrook T, Hatanoc R (2018) Effects of the ridge mulched system on soil water and inorganic N distribution in the Loess Plateau of China. Agr Water Manage 203:277–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ju XT, Xing GX, Chen XP, Zhang SL, Zhang LJ, Liu XJ, Cui ZL, Yin B, Christie P, Zhu ZL, Zhang FS (2009) Reducing environmental risk by improving N management in intensive Chinese agricultural systems. P Natl Acad Sci USA 106:3041–3046CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ju XT, Zhang C (2017) N cycling and environmental impacts in upland agricultural soils in North China: a review. J Integr Agric 203:277–288Google Scholar
  20. Kunratha TR, Lemaire G, Sadrasc VO, Gastala F (2018) Water use efficiency in perennial forage species: interactions between N nutrition and water deficit. Field Crop Res 222:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Li CJ, Wang CJ, Wen XX, Qin XL, Liu Y, Han J, Li YJ, Liao YC, Wu W (2017a) Ridge–furrow with plastic film mulching practice improves maize productivity and resource use efficiency under the wheat–maize double–cropping system in dry semi–humid areas. Field Crop Res 203:201–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Li N, Zhou CJ, Sun X, Jiang JY, Tian XX, Wang LQ (2018a) Effects of ridge tillage and mulching on water availability, grain yield, and water use efficiency in rain-fed winter wheat under different rainfall and N conditions. Soil Tillage Res 179:86–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Li H, Xue JF, Gao ZQ, Xue NW, Yang ZP (2018b) Response of yield increase for dryland winter wheat to tillage practice during summer fallow and sowing method in the Loess Plateau of China. J. Integr. Agressologie 17:817–825Google Scholar
  24. Li WW, Wen XX, Han J, Liu Y, Wu W, Liao YC (2017b) Optimum ridge-to-furrow ratio in ridge-furrow mulching systems for improving water conservation in maize (Zea may L.) production. Envrion Sci Pollut Res 24:23168–23179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Li WW, Zhang QL, Wu W, Wen XX, Han J, Liao YC (2019) Effects of ridge - furrow mulching on soil CO2 efflux in a maize field in the Chinese Loess Plateau. Agric For Meteorol 264:200–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Liu H, Wang ZH, Yu R, Li FC, Li KY, Cao HB, Yang N, Li MH, Dai J, Zan YI, Li Q, Xue C, He G, Huang DL, Huang M, Liu JS, Qiu WH, Zhao HB, Mao H (2016a) Optimal N input for higher efficiency and lower environmental impacts of winter wheat production in China. Agr Ecosyst Environ 224:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Liu Y, Liang HY, Lv XK, Liu DD, Wen XX, Liao YC (2016b) Effect of polyamines on the grain filling of wheat under drought stress. Plant Physiol Biochem 100:113–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lynch JP, Doyle D, McAuley S, McHardy F, Danneels Q, Black LC, White EM, Spink J (2017) The impact of variation in grain number and individual grain weight on winter wheat yield in the high yield potential environment of Ireland. Eur J Agron 87:40–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ma DD, Chen L, Qu HC, Wang YL, Misselbrook T, Jiang R (2018) Impacts of plastic film mulching on crop yields, soil water, nitrate-N, and organic carbon in northwestern China: a meta-analysis. Agr Water Manage 202:166–173Google Scholar
  30. National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBSC) (2016) China statistical yearbook. In: China Statistics Press. Beijing, ChinaGoogle Scholar
  31. Smith CJ, Chalk PM (2018) The residual value of fertilizer N in crop sequences: an appraisal of 60 years of research using 15N tracer. Field Crop Res 217:66–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sun QH, Miao CY, Duan QY, Wang YF (2015) Temperature and precipitation changes over the loess plateau between 1961 and 2011, based on high-density gauge observations. Glob Planet Chang 132:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sun WY, Mu XM, Song XY, Wu D, Cheng AF, Qiu B (2016) Changes in extreme temperature and precipitation events in the Loess Plateau (China) during 1960-2013 under global warming. Atmos Res 168:33–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sun M, Ren AX, Gao ZQ, Wang PR, Mo F, Xue LZ, Lei MM (2018) Long-term evaluation of tillage methods in fallow season for soil water storage, wheat yield and water use efficiency in semiarid southeast of the Loess Plateau. Field Crop Res 218:24–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tian K, Bao HY, Zhang XC, Shi TR, Liu XP, Wu FY (2018) Residuals, bioaccessibility and health risk assessment of PAHs in winter wheat grains from areas influenced by coal combustion in China. Sci. Total Environ 618:777–784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wang YP, Li XG, Fu TT, Wang L, Turner NC, Siddique KHM, Li FM (2016) Multi-site assessment of the effects of plastic-film mulch on the soil organic carbon balance in semiarid areas of China. Agric For Meteorol 228–229:42–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wu Y, Huang FY, Jia ZK, Ren XL, Cai T (2017) Response of soil water, temperature, and maize (Zea may L.) production to different plastic film mulching patterns in semi-arid areas of northwest China. Soil Tillage Res 166:113–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yan CR, He WQ, Mei XR (2010) Agricultural application of plastic film and its residue pollution prevention. Science press, Beijing, pp 10–11 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  39. Yang J, Mao XM, Wang K, Yang WC (2018) The coupled impact of plastic film mulching and deficit irrigation on soil water/heat transfer and water use efficiency of spring wheat in Northwest China. Agr Water Manage 201:232–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Zhang J, Balkovič J, Azevedo LB, Skalský R, Bouwman AF, Xu G, Wang JZ, Xu MG, Yu CQ (2018) Analyzing and modelling the effect of long-term fertilizer management on crop yield and soil organic carbon in China. Sci Total Environ 627:361–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zhang SL, Sadras V, Chen XP, Zhang FS (2013) Water use efficiency of dryland wheat in the Loess Plateau in response to soil and crop management. Field Crop Res 151:9–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zhang ZL, Liu JS, Wang ZH, Zhao HB, Yang N, Yang R, Cao HB (2012) Nitrogen recommendation for dryland winter wheat by monitoring nitrate in 1 m soil and based on N balance. Plant Nutr Fert Sci 18:1387–1396 (in Chinese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and EnvironmentShanxi Agricultural UniversityTaiguChina
  2. 2.National Experimental Teaching Demonstration Center of Agricultural Resources and EnvironmentShanxi Agricultural UniversityTaiguChina
  3. 3.College of AgricultureShanxi Agricultural UniversityTaiguChina

Personalised recommendations