Different agricultural practices may have substantial impacts on crop physiology and yield. However, it is still not entirely clear how multiple agricultural practices such as tillage, biochar and different nutrient applications could influence corn physiology and yield. We conducted a three-year field experiment to study the responses of corn physiology, yield and soil respiration to six different agricultural practices. The six treatments included conventional tillage (CT) or no tillage (NT), in combination with nitrogen type (URAN or chicken litter) and application method, biochar, or denitrification inhibitor. A randomized complete block design was applied with six replications. Leaf photosynthetic rate, transpiration, plant height, leaf area index (LAI), biomass and yield were measured. Results showed that different agricultural practices had significant effects on plant leaf photosynthesis, transpiration, soil respiration, height and yield, but not on LAI and biomass. The average corn yield in the NT-URAN was 10.03 ton/ha, 28.9% more than in the CT-URAN. Compared to the NT-URAN, the NT-biochar had lower soil respiration and similar yield. All variables measured showed remarkable variations among the three years. Our results indicated that no tillage treatment substantially increased corn yield, probably due to the preservation of soil moisture during drought periods.
Yu, CL., Hui, D., Deng, Q. et al. Responses of corn physiology and yield to six agricultural practices over three years in middle Tennessee. Sci Rep 6, 27504 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/srep27504