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Acta Agronomica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (1): 138-148.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1006.2021.04065


Effects of tillage depth on soil hydrological characteristics and potato yield on northwest Loess Plateau

ZHANG Xu-Cheng*(), MA Yi-Fan, YU Xian-Feng, HOU Hui-Zhi, WANG Hong-Li, FANG Yan-Jie, ZHANG Guo-Ping, LEI Kang-Ning   

  1. Institute of Dry Land Farming, Gansu Academy of Agricultural Sciences / Key Laboratory of High Water Utilization on Dryland of Gansu Province, Lanzhou 730070, Gansu, China
  • Received:2020-03-12 Accepted:2020-07-02 Online:2021-01-12 Published:2020-08-18
  • Contact: ZHANG Xu-Cheng E-mail:gazhangxuch@163.com
  • Supported by:
    National Key Research and Development Program of China(2018YFD020080105);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31960398);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31560355)


The subsoiling can break the plough pan and optimize soil hydrological characteristics. However, the study on the effects of tillage depths on soil water characteristics, potato water consumption and yield, is insufficient. The field experiment was conducted with three tillage depths of 15 cm (TT), 40 cm (VRT), and 60 cm (VRT6), to investigate the effect of tillage depths on the yield and water utilization of potato in semiarid rain-fed area in 2016 and 2017 on northwest Loess Plateau. The parameters of soil bulk density, soil hydrological properties, potato SPAD (soil and plant analyzer development) value, leaf area index (LAI), and tuber yield were measured. The soil bulk density, and increased saturation moisture, capillary moisture and field water capacity of VRT6 treatment compared with VRT and TT were decreased in 40-60 cm and 0-60 cm profile, respectively. Water consumption of VRT6 treatment was significantly increased in pre-squaring stage, resulting in the decrement of soil water storage in 0-100 cm profile by 22.3 mm and 49.0 mm in 2016, and 43.9 mm and 56.6 mm in 2017. Water consumption in pre-squaring stage of VRT6 was significantly increased by 42.2 mm and 38.3 mm compared with VRT and TT treatment in 2017, respectively. Based on the excessive water consumption in pre-flowering period, the LAI of VRT6 was significantly higher than TT in whole growth period, than VRT in post-squaring period, and the SPAD value was higher than VRT in expanding stage in 2017, which indicated that the vigorous growth was subsistent in VRT6 treatment. The tuber yield of VRT6 were significantly higher than TT, but it significantly decreased in 2017 compared to VRT, and the water use efficiency (WUE) of VRT6 were significantly decreased by 61.2%-67.5% and 41.0%-53.5%, as compared with VRT and TT. Consequently, the suitable tillage depth for potato cultivation was 40 cm in semiarid area, which could optimize the soil hydrological properties and potato water consuming process, and relieved the drought stress efficiently, resulting in significantly higher tuber yield and WUE.

Key words: tillage depths, soil hydrological properties, periodical water consumption, tuber yield, water use efficiency, potato

Fig. 1

Variation of precipitation and average air temperature in experimental plots from 2016 to 2017"

Fig. 2

Schematic diagram of potato micro-furrows on ridges and planting with plastic mulching"

Fig. 3

Effects of different tillage depths on soil bulk density TT: traditional votary tillage at 15 cm soil depth; VRT: vertically rotary tillage at 40 cm depth; VRT6: vertically rotary tillage at 60 cm depth. The bars with different lowercase letters in the same soil depth mean significant difference among treatments at the 0.05 probability level."

Fig. 4

Effects of different tillage depths on soil saturation moisture, capillary moisture, and field water capacity a, b, c and e, d, f indicate the soil saturation moisture, capillary moisture and field water capacity in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Bars with different lowercase letters in the same soil depth mean significant difference among treatments at the 0.05 probability level. Treatments are the same as those given in Fig. 3."

Fig. 5

Effects of different tillage depths on profile soil water storage a, b, c, d and e, f, g, h indicate the pre-sowing stage, squaring stage, flowering stage and harvesting stage in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Treatments are the same as those given in Fig. 3."

Fig. 6

Effects of different tillage depths on periodical evapotranspiration of potato The bar represents the periodical evapotranspiration, the line represents the periodical precipitation. The bar with different lowercase letters mean significant difference among treatments at the 0.05 probability level. Treatments are the same as those given in Fig. 3."

Fig. 7

Effects of different tillage depths on leaf SPAD value and leaf area index of potato The bar with different lowercase letters mean significant difference among treatments at the 0.05 probability level. Treatments are the same as those given in Fig. 3."

Table 1

Effects of different tillage depths on tuber yield, evapotranspiration, and water use efficiency of potato"

Yield (kg hm-2)
ET (mm)
WUE (kg hm-2 mm-1)
2016 TT 22,253.3 b 240.1 c 92.6 b
VRT 32,897.3 a 297.8 b 110.6 a
VRT6 33,363.0 a 371.4 a 36.0 c
2017 TT 30,388.9 c 309.0 c 98.6 b
VRT 42,833.3 a 344.0 b 124.9 a
VRT6 36,257.7 b 410.1 a 58.1 c
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