Photosynthetic Rate and Water Utilization of Rainfed Wheat with Plastic Mulching on the Semiarid Loess Plateau, China

  • Na Liu
  • Wen-Xiong YangEmail author
Research Article


Bunch sowing after whole-field plastic mulching with soil coverage (PMS) is a creative way to increase the wheat yield in semiarid rainfed areas of China. The authors conducted a two-year field experiment in Dingxi, Gansu, from 2012 to 2013, with three treatments of: (1) PMS, (2) bunch sowing after plastic mulching on the land surface (PM), and (3) direct bunch sowing without mulching (CK). Compared to CK, PM and PMS were affected by increasing soil water content in the early growth stage in the 0–60 cm profile, as well as average soil temperature in the 0–25 cm profile. Water consumption after flowering was significantly increased in PMS, which was higher than in CK and PM by 36.1 and 30.2 mm in 2012 and by 24.8 and 23.4 mm in 2013, respectively. PMS resulted in significantly higher SPAD and Pn values at the jointing and heading stage as compared to PM (P < 0.05), and it increased by 10.2 and 23.7 at the jointing stage and 7.70 and 11.0% at the heading stage, in 2013 (extremely arid in spring), respectively. The spike length, grain number per spike, and 1000-grain weight in PMS and PM were similar, but significantly higher than those in CK. Compared to PM, PMS significantly increased yield (15.7%) and WUE (20.1%) in 2013. It suggested that PMS was considered to be superior to PM because the soil water supply after flowering was significantly improved, which facilitated yield formation.


Rainfed semiarid area Whole-field soil–plastic mulching and bunch sowing Photosynthetic rate Yield Water use efficiency 



Bunch sowing after whole-field plastic mulching with soil coverage


Bunch sowing after plastic mulching on the land surface


Direct bunch sowing without mulching


Net photosynthesis rate


Water use efficiency


Soil water storage


Soil and plant analyzer development





This work was supported by grants from the Key Scientific-Technological Project of Gansu Province (17ZD2NA016), National Natural Science Foundation of China (31560390) and the Agricultural Scientific Research Projects in the Public Welfare Industry (201503125-1).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest to publish this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The National Academy of Sciences, India 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Wheat, Gansu Academy of Agricultural SciencesGansu Engineering Research Center for WheatLanzhouChina

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