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Soil warming and straw return impacts on winter wheat phenology, photosynthesis, root growth, and grain yield in the North China Plain
Field Crops Research  (IF6.145),  Pub Date : 2022-04-21, DOI: 10.1016/j.fcr.2022.108545
Gong Wu, Jun Ling, Zi-Xi Liu, Yi-Ping Xu, Xian-Min Chen, Yuan Wen, Shun-Li Zhou

Soil temperature rise caused by global warming is one of the most serious threats to crop physiology and production. Straw return is considered as a potential strategy to improve soil health and agricultural productivity. However, little is known about their interactive effects on wheat growth and production, which limits the development of strategies and technological innovations for future food security. Therefore, in the two wheat seasons from 2018 to 2020, with or without straw return, the heating cable was laid at a depth of 20 cm to increase the soil temperature by 3.8 ℃, and the phenology, photosynthesis, root growth, and grain yield of winter wheat were studied. Soil warming advanced the anthesis date by one week and promoted pre-anthesis wheat growth and dry matter transportation. However, soil warming decreased post-anthesis duration, leaf area index, SPAD, net photosynthesis, and spectral vegetation indexes. Therefore, post-anthesis dry matter accumulation and grain filling were inhibited, lowering the 1000-grain weight and harvest index. Furthermore, the post-anthesis root weight, length, surface area densities and root to shoot ratio were also decreased under soil warming. Finally, soil warming reduced the grain yield by 35.2% in the dry 2018–2019 year. However, the wheat growth characteristics were considerably higher and no difference in grain yield was detected among treatments in the wet 2019–2020 season, indicating that increased precipitation may offset the adverse effect of soil warming on wheat yield. Straw return increased aboveground biomass, but had no effect on wheat yield, probably because the positive effects were limited in the short experimental duration. The findings suggested that soil warming would promote pre-anthesis wheat growth but accelerate post-anthesis wheat senescence, affect dry matter transportation and accumulation, eventually reducing wheat yield in the NCP, especially under dry condition.