Determining optimal mulching, planting density, and nitrogen application to increase maize grain yield and nitrogen translocation efficiency in Northwest China

Xiukang Wang, Ge Wang, Neil C. Turner, Yingying Xing, Meitian Li, Tao Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The combination of mulch with N fertilizer application is a common agronomic technique used in the production of rainfed maize (Zea mays L.) to achieve higher yields under conditions of optimum planting density and adequate N supply. However, the combined effects of mulch, planting density, and N fertilizer application rate on plant N uptake and N translocation efficiency are not known. The objective of this study was to quantify the interaction effect of mulch, planting density, and N fertilizer application rate on maize grain yield, N uptake, N translocation, and N translocation efficiency. The experiment was arranged in a randomized complete block design with three factors (2 mulch levels × 2 planting densities × 4 N fertilizer application rates) replicated four times. RESULTS: There was a significant interaction among mulch, plant density, and N fertilizer on maize grain yield, kernel number per cob, N uptake, N translocation, and N translocation efficiency. Averaged over the 3 years of the study, total plant N uptake at silking ranged from 79 to 149 kg N ha- 1 with no mulch and from 76 to 178 kg N ha- 1 with mulch. The N uptake at silking in different plant organs ranked as leaf > grain > stem > cob. Averaged across all factors, the highest N translocation was observed in leaves, which was 59.4 and 88.7% higher than observed in stems and ears, respectively. The mean vegetative organ N translocation efficiency averaged over mulch, planting density, and N fertilizer application rate treatments decreased in the order of leaf > stem > cob. CONCLUSIONS: Mulch, planting density, and N fertilizer application rate not only have significant effects on improving maize grain yield and NUE, but also on N uptake, N translocation, and N translocation efficiency. Our results showed clearly that under high planting density, the combination of mulch and moderate N fertilizer application rate was the optimal strategy for increasing maize grain yield and N use efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2020

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Determining optimal mulching, planting density, and nitrogen application to increase maize grain yield and nitrogen translocation efficiency in Northwest China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this