Modelling the impact of mulching the soil with plant remains on water regime formation, crop yield and energy costs in agricultural ecosystems
- Laboratory of Soil Water Physics, Institute of Water Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences, 119333 Moscow, Russian Federation
Abstract. The model MULCH, developed by authors previously for simulating the formation of water regime in an agricultural field covered by straw mulch layer, has been used for the comparative evaluation of the efficiency of four agricultural cultivation technologies, which are usually used for wheat production in different regions of Russia and Ukraine. It simulates the dynamics of water budget components in a soil rooting zone at daily time step from the beginning of spring snowmelt to the beginning of the period with stable negative air temperatures. The model was designed for estimation of mulching efficiency in terms of increase in plant water supply and crop yield under climatic and soil conditions of the steppe and forest-steppe zones. It is used for studying the mulching effect on some characteristics of water regime and yield of winter wheat growing at specific sites located in semi-arid and arid regions of the steppe and forest-steppe zones of the eastern and southern parts of the East-European (Russian) plain. In addition, a previously developed technique for estimating the energetic efficiency of various agricultural technologies with accounting for their impact on changes in soil energy is applied for the comparative evaluation of the efficiency of four agricultural cultivation technologies, which are usually used for wheat production in different regions of the steppe and forest-steppe zones of the European Russia: (1) moldboard tillage of soil without irrigation, (2) moldboard tillage of soil with irrigation, (3) subsurface cultivation, and (4) subsurface cultivation with mulching the soil with plant remains.