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Acta Prataculturae Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (6): 27-38.DOI: 10.11686/cyxb2019404

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Meta-analysis of alfalfa yield and WUE response to growing ages in China

CAI Lu1, WANG Lin-lin2,3, LUO Zhu-zhu1,2,*, LI Ling-ling2, NIU Yi-ning2, CAI Li-qun1,2, XIE Jun-hong2,3   

  1. 1. College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou 730070, China;
    2. Gansu Key Laboratory of Aridland Crop Science, Lanzhou 730070, China;
    3. College of Agronomy, Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou 730070, China
  • Received:2019-09-17 Revised:2020-02-18 Online:2020-06-20 Published:2020-06-20

Abstract: In order to explore optimal alfalfa stand age in different environments, a meta-analysis was conducted to determine how yield and water use efficiency (WUE) of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) change with stand age in China. A total of 80 articles published before May 2019 were chosen from domestic and foreign journals (including 1496 available comparisons of yield and 220 available comparisons of WUE). Each article abstracted included data on annual precipitation, fertilization practices and water regime. Site annual rainfall was classified as <200 mm, 200-400 mm, 400-800 mm or ≥800 mm. Fertilization practice was recorded as fertilization or no fertilization, and water regime was classified as irrigation or rainfall. The analytical steps in each case consisted of a heterogeneity test, a comprehensive effect size calculation, a publication bias test, and influence factor analysis. It was found that forage yield and WUE of alfalfa were highest in three-five and six-eight year old stands, and then decreased gradually. Also, the yield and WUE decline in older stands of alfalfa may be related to reduction in soil water storage and soil fertility and their interaction. Based on the forage yield and WUE data examined in this study, peak performance occurs in three-five year old stands in arid regions, semi-arid regions and humid regions, but can extended to six-eight year old stands in semi-humid regions. The data indicate that alfalfa stand peak performance and longevity are more effectively extended by fertilization than by irrigation.

Key words: alfalfa, growing ages, yield, water use efficiency (WUE), Meta-analysis