Application of mulch under reduced water input to increase yield and water productivity of sweet corn in a lowland rice system

Vial, L. K., Lefroy, R. D. B. and Fukai, S. (2015) Application of mulch under reduced water input to increase yield and water productivity of sweet corn in a lowland rice system. Field Crops Research, 171 120-129. doi:10.1016/j.fcr.2014.11.008

Author Vial, L. K.
Lefroy, R. D. B.
Fukai, S.
Title Application of mulch under reduced water input to increase yield and water productivity of sweet corn in a lowland rice system
Journal name Field Crops Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0378-4290
Publication date 2015-02-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.fcr.2014.11.008
Open Access Status
Volume 171
Start page 120
End page 129
Total pages 10
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
While straw mulch usually reduces soil evaporation and stabilizes soil temperature, hence increasing yield, this effect may depend on the irrigation water input conditions. Two experiments in lowland rice paddies in Lao PDR tested the effect of rice straw mulch under various water input—standard farmer condition to reduced input condition by using either drip irrigation or lower furrow irrigation water input (WI) by increasing the furrow irrigation interval before flowering—on growth and yield of sweet corn. The time course of water balance components was determined to elucidate the mechanisms of mulch and water input interaction for row planted maize after rice harvesting.

The experiments found that adding straw mulch reduced estimated soil evaporation by 114–163 mm, but only some of this was partitioned into extra transpiration, so the non-transpiration flux (the difference between water input and transpiration) changed little. Only when mulch was added and water input also reduced did it maintain or increase transpiration, reduce the non-transpiration flux and hence substantially increase water productivity (WP). Most if not all of the non-transpiration flux occurred in the first 60 days; the opportunity to apply treatments to increase water productivity arose mostly in the first 60 days.

Mulch had a greater effect with extended furrow irrigation intervals before flowering than with standard intervals, but there was no effect under drip irrigation. In Experiment 1, mulch increased fresh ear yield and water productivity to water input (irrigation plus rainfall) (WP) by 42% with Low WI, but had no effect with High WI or with drip irrigation. The combination of mulch and reducing water input from High WI to Low WI increased gross margin (GM) per hectare by 20% and GM per m3 water input by 66% due to increased yield and reduced water and labour costs. In Experiment 2, mulch increased fresh ear yield, WP by 93% and consequent GM with low WI, but also increased fresh ear yield and WP by 60% and GM with High WI.

In these Southeast Asian experiments, mulching and reducing water input—by increasing irrigation interval before flowering—maintained or increased yield, and increased gross margin per hectare and per m3 water input. Particularly in areas with restricted water supply, and hence the need to reduce water input and increase water productivity, mulch allows a reduction in water input while also maintaining or increasing farm income from sweet corn.
Keyword Mulch
Sweet corn
Water productivity
Lowland rice
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online ahead of print 15 Dec 2014

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Official 2015 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 5 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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