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Straw Mulching Enhances Soil Carbon and Maize Yield

Mulching is widely used to conserve soil water and enhance dryland maize yield in the southern and southeastern Asia. However, its effect on soil carbon sequestration and microbial biomass and activity is not well understood.

In the March-April issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal, researchers report the results of a five-year study of straw and plastic film mulching on soil carbon sequestration, microbial biomass and activity, and dryland maize yield in the Loess Plateau of China.

The researchers found that straw mulching increased soil carbon sequestration, microbial biomass and activity, and maize yield compared with no mulching. Plastic film mulching further increased maize yield, but reduced carbon sequestration and microbial biomass and activity compared to straw mulching.

Straw mulching can be adapted to sustain dryland maize yield, increase carbon sequestration, and enhance soil health and quality in arid and semiarid regions, especially in the southern and southeastern Asia where the ratio of land resource to population density is low and demand for food production to feed the growing population is high.

Read the full article in SSSAJ. Free preview May 21 - 28