Furrow seeding with plastic mulching increases stand establishment and lint yield of cotton in a saline field
Uniform stand establishment is essential for profitable cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) production in saline fields. This study was conducted during 2003 and 2004 to determine if furrow-bed seeding and plastic mulching improve stand establishment and cotton lint yield in a saline field. The experiment was arranged in a split-plot design with seeding patterns (flat-seeded and furrow-seeded) as main plots and mulching (with or without plastic mulching) as subplots. The effects of seeding patterns, mulching, and their interactions on root-zone salinity, soil temperature, stand establishment, and lint yield were monitored. Furrow seeding reduced the root-zone salinity, while plastic mulching both reduced salinity and increased soil temperatures. As a result, furrow-seeded cotton under plastic mulching increased stand establishment and lint yield by 103 and 25% in 2003, and 92 and 22% in 2004, compared with flat-seeded cotton without mulching, respectively. Plastic mulching and furrow seeding also enhanced earliness as indicated by the percentage of the first two harvests. Physiological assay 30 d after seeding (DAS) showed that plastic mulching and furrow seeding substantially reduced Na+ accumulation both in root and leaf tissues, inhibited peroxidation of lipids, and improved leaf photosynthesis (Pn) and dry matter production. The overall results suggest that use of plastic mulching plus furrow-bed seeding would be a suitable cultural practice for enhancing cotton production in saline soils.