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Mixed‐cropping systems of different rice cultivars have grain yield and quality advantages over mono‐cropping systems

Li, Meijuan, Zhang, Jiaen, Liu, Shiwei, Ashraf, Umair, Zhao, Benliang, Qiu, Shuqing
Journal of the science of food and agriculture 2019 v.99 no.7 pp. 3326-3334
agricultural land, biodiversity, cultivars, disease resistance, grain quality, grain yield, greenhouses, growing season, harvest index, leaves, mixed cropping, panicles, pests, photosynthesis, plant analysis, plant height, rice, seed set, seedlings, seeds, soil, spikelets, t-test
BACKGROUND: A mixed‐cropping system that enhances farmland biodiversity has the potential to improve grain yield and quality; however, the impacts of growing different rice cultivars simultaneously has been rarely investigated. In the present study, five popular rice cultivars were selected and ten mixture combinations were made according to the growth period, plant height, grain yield and quality, and pest and disease resistance. Seedlings of the five cultivars and ten mixture combinations (mixed‐sowing of the seeds in an equal ratio, then mixed‐transplanting and finally mixed‐harvesting) were grown in plastic pots in a glasshouse during the early and late growing seasons in 2016. RESULTS: Compared with the mono‐cropping systems in the early and late growing seasons in 2016 (paired t‐test), the mixed‐cropping systems increased the rice leaf photosynthetic rate, soil plant analysis development (SPAD) index and total aboveground dry weight. Moreover, mixed‐cropping systems improved the number of spikelets per panicle, seed‐setting rate, and grain weight per pot and harvest index by 19.52% and 5.77%, 8.53% and 4.41%, 8.31% and 4.61%, and 10.26% and 6.98% in the early and late growing seasons, respectively. In addition, mixed‐cropping systems reduced chalky rice rate and chalkiness degree by 33.12% and 43.42% and by 30.11% and 48.13% in the early and late growing seasons, respectively. CONCLUSION: The SPAD indexes and photosynthetic rates enhanced at physiology maturity in mixed‐cropping systems may result in higher grain yield and better grain quality. In general, it was found that mixed‐cropping with different rice cultivars has the potential for increasing grain yield and improving grain quality. © 2018 Society of Chemical Industry