Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Effects of mulch and planting methods on Medicago ruthenica seed yield and soil physical-chemical properties


Medicago ruthenica (L.) Trautv., a wild grass species, is commonly grown as a forage crop in arid and semi-arid areas of China. Herein, we explored mulch patterns and planting methods for optimizing M. ruthenica seed production in the loess plateau of the Gansu Province, China from 2017 to 2019. The experiments comprised of six treatments including (1) flat ground without mulch (F0, control); (2) flat ground with a transparent white 0.008 mm thick plastic film mulch (FP); (3) flat ground with 4500 kg/hm2 straw mulch (FS); (4) furrow with 10 cm ridges (R0); (5) furrow with plastic film mulch (RP); and (6) furrow with straw mulch (RS). Results showed that the harvested seed yield of M. ruthenica was the highest under RP treatment, followed by FP and FS treatments. Soil moisture content from mid-May to mid-August in 2017 was the highest under RP and FP treatments, followed by RS and FS treatments. In 2018, soil moisture content was the highest under RS and FS treatments. In 2017 and 2018, soil temperature was the highest under FP and RP treatments, followed by F0 and R0 treatments. Total and available nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium contents were the highest under RS and FS treatments, followed by RP and FP treatments. Comprehensive analysis result showed that surface mulch improved soil microenvironment and increased seed yield of M. ruthenica. Straw mulch also effectively recycled excess crop straw, thereby encouraging the sustainable development of agriculture in this area. In conclusion, FS treatment was considered the best mode for M. ruthenica seed production in this area.


arid area; plastic film; straw mulch; soil moisture content; soil temperature; soil chemistry

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