Photosynthetic characteristics of summer maize under different planting patterns and the responses to nitrogen application of previous crop
Maize (Zea mays L.) is one of the most important grain crops in the North China Plain. Management practices affect the photosynthetic characteristics and the production of summer maize. This two-year (2014-2015) study examined the effects of different planting patterns and the application of nitrogen to previous winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) on the photosynthetic characteristics, yield and radiation use efficiency (RUE) of summer maize. Field experiments used a two-factor split-plot design with three replicates at Taian, Shandong Province, China (36°09′ N, 117°09′ E). The experiments involved two planting patterns (ridge planting, RP; and uniform row planting, UR) and two nitrogen application levels of previous winter wheat (N1, 112.50 kg ha-1; N2, 225.00 kg ha-1). The results indicated that the application of nitrogen on previous crop and ridge planting of the following crop had significant effects on the photosynthetic characteristics and yields of summer maize. Compared with UR, this study found that RP increased the chlorophyll content index (CCI), leaf area index (LAI), net photosynthetic rate (Pn), dry matter (DM), yield and grain RUE by 4.1%, 6.3%, 5.2%, 6.4%, 8.9% and 9.4%, respectively. The CCI, LAI, Pn, yield, and grain RUE of N2 were 9.7%, 3.3%, 3.7%, 10.0% and 10.1% higher than those of N1, respectively. RP combined with the application of nitrogen on previous crop of winter wheat could increase the CCI, LAI, Pn, DM, ultimately increasing the grain yield and RUE of the following summer’s maize. It was concluded that previous crop nitrogen application and RP pattern treatment resulted in optimal cropping conditions for the North China plain.