Influence of Tillage and Mulch on Soil Physical Properties and Wheat Yield in Rice-Wheat System
Zero tillage along with application of mulch is an important strategy for soil conservation which maintains sustainability of agricultural system. A randomized complete block design in a split plot arrangement was used with four tillage methods [conventional tillage, (CT); deep tillage, (DT); zero tillage with zone disc tiller, (ZDT); and happy seeder, (HS)] in main plots and five mulch materials [no mulch, (M0); rice straw, (MRice); wheat straw, (MWheat); plastic sheet, (MPlastic) at 4 t ha-1, and natural mulch, (MNatural)] in subplots during 2009-10 and 2010-11. Results showed that DT significantly decreased soil bulk density, penetration resistance, and volumetric moisture content when compared with CT, ZDT, and HS. However, wheat yield parameters such as germination count, fertile tillers, grain yield and water use efficiency were significantly higher in HS compared with other tillage treatments while root length and grain protein were higher in DT. Plant height remained non-significant during 2009-10, while in 2010-11 it differed significantly and was higher in HS than other tillage treatments. Wheat yield parameters were significantly higher in MPlastic at 4 t ha-1 than other mulch materials. Happy seeder and deep tillage along with plastic mulch have positive impact on soil physical properties, root growth, water use efficiency and yield parameters by creating a favorable soil environment.