Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

    We have a manual that explains all the features 

Record number 496956
Title Soil mulching significantly enhances yields and water and nitrogen use efficiencies of maize and wheat : A meta-analysis
Author(s) Qin, Wei; Hu, Chunsheng; Oenema, Oene
Source Scientific Reports 5 (2015). - ISSN 2045-2322 - 13 p.
Department(s) Chair Soil Biology and Biological Soil Quality
Alterra - Sustainable soil management
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2015

Global crop yields are limited by water and nutrient availability. Soil mulching (with plastic or straw) reduces evaporation, modifies soil temperature and thereby affects crop yields. Reported effects of mulching are sometimes contradictory, likely due to differences in climatic conditions, soil characteristics, crop species, and also water and nitrogen (N) input levels. Here we report on a meta-analysis of the effects of mulching on wheat and maize, using 1310 yield observations from 74 studies conducted in 19 countries. Our results indicate that mulching significantly increased yields, WUE (yield per unit water) and NUE (yield per unit N) by up to 60%, compared with no-mulching. Effects were larger for maize than wheat, and larger for plastic mulching than straw mulching. Interestingly, plastic mulching performed better at relatively low temperature while straw mulching showed the opposite trend. Effects of mulching also tended to decrease with increasing water input. Mulching effects were not related to soil organic matter content. In conclusion, soil mulching can significantly increase maize and wheat yields, WUE and NUE, and thereby may contribute to closing the yield gap between attainable and actual yields, especially in dryland and low nutrient input agriculture. The management of soil mulching requires site-specific knowledge.

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