Integrative impacts of soil tillage on crop yield, N use efficiency and greenhouse gas emission in wheat-corn cropping system

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Institute of Crop Science, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences/Key Laboratory of Crop Physiology & Ecology, Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing 100081, China

2 Dongping County Agricultural Bureau, Dongping County 271000, China.


Wheat-corn cropping system is one of the most important grain production systems in the
world. However, the integrative impacts of soil tillage on crop yield, N use efficiency (NUE)
and greenhouse gases (GHGS) emissions are not well documented in this system. Thus, a twoyear field experiment was carried out in a typical wheat-corn cropping system with four tillage
regimes during the wheat season, including no-tillage (NT), rotary tillage (RT), sub-soiling
tillage (ST) and sub-soiling with rotary tillage (SRT) in a randomized block design with three
replicates. No-tillage was conducted for all treatments during corn season. Over the two years,
the highest yields of wheat, corn and annual were found in the SRT treatment, while the lowest
annual yield was found in the NT treatment averagely. Two-year average annual yield in the
SRT was 19643.9 kg ha-1, which was 4.8, 5.9 and 7.7% higher than that in the ST, RT and NT
treatments, respectively (P<0.05). SRT also stimulated plant N uptake with a higher N harvest
index and higher partial factor productivity (PFP) than those under the other tillage practices
(P<0.05). Although SRT stimulated N2O emission in wheat season, it significantly reduced the
emission in corn season compared with the NT (P<0.05). Thus, no significant differences in
total GHGS emissions, area-scaled and yield-scaled global warming potential (GWP) were
found among the tillage practices. Our results indicate that sub-soiling with rotary tillage might
benefit crop production for high yield and N use efficiency with less GHGS emissions for
wheat-corn cropping system in North China Plain.