Total global food demand is expected to double by 2050 (Tilman et al., 2011), with limited or no increases in planted area and irrigation water. Meeting the demand for increased food production requires increasing the productivity of existing cropping systems (Godfray et al., 2010), so it is particularly important to increase food production per unit area with low water consumption (Perry et al., 2009), especially in some water-deficient regions, such as Northwest China.
In recent years, the effects of warming (Song et al., 2013), rain harvesting (Ren et al., 2008) and moisture conservation (Wang et al., 2009) of furrow and ridge planting systems have significantly promoted vegetative growth of crops, and ultimately improved yields (Liu et al., 2014; Zhang et al., 2019), which are widely used. in semi-arid agricultural areas at home and abroad. The ridge-furrow configuration is built by shaping the soil surface with alternate ridges and furrows along the contour (in a "trapezoid" shape). First of all, the ridge and furrow technology realized the effective regulation of rainfall in time and space. The ridge is conducive to the infiltration and transfer of water, and the water in the ditch is superimposed, which can effectively accumulate natural precipitation and improve the efficiency of rainfall utilization. When there is a lot of rainfall, the water will infiltrate vertically and move laterally at the same time, and the water in the furrow can seep laterally to the bottom of the ridge. Some simulation experiments (Wang et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2011; Zhang et al., 2012, 2013a, b) about soil water infiltration have been proved that the lateral infiltrated water could meet crops growth needs on the ridges. The water in the furrow mainly moves laterally to the row position, minimizing the downward movement of water. In addition, the yield-increasing effect of the furrow planting system was affected by the furrow-to-furrow ratio and mulching material (Liu et al., 2020).
Canopy structure is a key factor affecting the light distribution and photosynthetic characteristics of crop populations (Liu et at., 2018; Zhang et al., 2022). Improving the photosynthetic efficiency and material production capacity of crop populations mainly lies in improving the light transmittance of the canopy and enhancing the photosynthetic performance of the population. Therefore, the canopy structure is often affected by adjusting the plant type and leaf orientation in production. Ridging in the field, planting crops on the ridges and furrows, changing the vertical spatial difference of crops, improving the light transmittance of the crop canopy, improving the effective interception of light, and helping to improve the utilization rate of light energy and group productivity.
Maize (Zea mays L.) is one of the most common crops in Northwestern China. In this area, annual rainfall ranges from 200 mm to 750 mm, with 60% of rainfall (frequent and heavy rainstorm) falling between June and September, which led to the expansion of the scale and severity of soil erosion. Some cultivating system such as rainwater concentration practices (planting only on ridges or in furrows) have been conducted to obtain higher maize yield and WUE (Ren et al., 2008; Liu et al. 2020). The three-dimensional ridge and furrow configuration optimizes the allocation and utilization of resources on the ridge and within the furrow by changing the niche of individual plants. However, the research on the distribution of maize canopy and utilization of light, temperature and water resources under different ridge and furrow configurations was scarce. This paper described three planting patterns: conventional flatting planting pattern without ridge (CK), the ridge and furrow planting system with two rows plants in ridge and two rows in furrow (R2F2), three rows in ridge and two rows in furrow (R3F2). In the optimized ridge and furrow system, we hypothesized that: (1) elucidate spatio-temporal dynamics of soil moisture and temperature; (2) optimize canopy distribution and leaf senescence; (3) obtain higher maize yield and resource use efficiency in Northwest region of China.