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Effects of residue management strategies on greenhouse gases and yield under double cropping of winter wheat and summer maize

Gao, Fei, Li, Bin, Ren, Baizhao, Zhao, Bin, Liu, Peng, Zhang, Jiwang
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.687 pp. 1138-1146
Zea mays, air pollution, bioenergy, burning, carbon dioxide, corn, corn stover, double cropping, environmental protection, gas production (biological), global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, nitrous oxide, soil fertility, straw, winter, winter wheat, China
The North China Plain (NCP) is typically cropped using a winter wheat–summer maize double cropping system, which has huge potential for straw production. The region also experiences atmospheric pollution caused by straw burning, which has become an important contributor to global warming. The goals of this experiment were to resolve the conflict between soil fertility and greenhouse gas emission when using straw return to the field and to identify the best balance between environmental protection and agricultural production. A randomized block design with three replicates was used. The design included three treatments based on the return of all winter wheat stalks to the field: (1) all summer maize stalks were pulverized mechanically and returned to the field (SR); (2) half of the summer maize stalks were pulverized mechanically and returned to the field (1/2 SR); and (3) all summer maize stalks were fully removed (control: CK). This long-term test was performed for 6 years. Straw returned to the field significantly increased greenhouse gas emissions. The cumulative CO2 emissions were higher by 32% under SR and by 17% under 1/2 SR compared with CK. The cumulative N2O emissions were higher by 28% under SR and 15% under 1/2 SR compared with CK. The greenhouse gas efflux increased with increased amounts of straw returned to the field. Compared with SR, 1/2 SR significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, while still ensuring sustainable soil fertility. Additionally, our research showed that the upper part of the corn stalk is better for generating biomass energy than the lower part. This study provides a theoretical basis for using the upper stalk for bioenergy and the lower stalk for direct return to the field for fertilization.