Energy Compensation for Crop Growth under Plastic Mulching: Theories, Models, and Limitations

Dianyuan Ding, Ting Li, Lihong Wu, Xi Zhang, Ying Zhao, Hao Feng, Chao Zhang, Ole Wendroth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Plastic film mulching (PM) is a useful agronomic means to adapt to the environmental conditions of dryland agriculture and improve crop production. To improve the theoretical framework of PM technology, this study focuses on the interaction between the soil temperature change caused by PM and crop growth. The definition, action mechanism, and simulation of the compensatory effect of PM on growing degree days are introduced to reveal the effect of soil temperature under PM on crop development and growth. Our summary shows that the strength of the warming effect changes with the growth and development of crops, strengthening during the early stage of crop growth and gradually weakening as a crop canopy develops. Generally, the warming effect has a good promotion effect on crop growth, but the crop growth is hampered even with a yield reduction when the increased soil temperature caused by PM exceeds the tolerant temperature for plant growth. Moreover, the compensatory effect of PM could be used to quantify the growth and development of crops under PM and has been widely applied to cotton, corn, winter wheat, and rice. The compensation coefficient is larger in the early stage of crop growth than in the later stage. The compensation coefficient has certain differences for the same crop because of the influence of climate factors, soil moisture content, and soil microtopography. In future research, the theoretical integration of the safety period of PM and the time threshold of the compensatory effect could be theoretically interpreted, and the construction of the compensatory effect module in the crop models will also be an important issue.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1005
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the authors.


  • crop model
  • dryland
  • growing degree day
  • plastic film mulching
  • time threshold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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