Soil water movement is a critical consideration for crop yield in straw-integrated fields. This study used an indoor soil column experiment to determine soil infiltration and evaporation characteristics in three forms of direct straw-integrated soils (straw mulching, straw mixing and straw inter-layering). Straw mulching is covering the land surface with straw. Straw mixing is mixing straw with the top 10 cm surface soil. Then straw inter-layering is placing straw at the 20 cm soil depth. There are generally good correlations among the mulch integration methods at p < 0.05, and with average errors/biases <10%. Straw mixing exhibited the best effect in terms of soil infiltration, followed by straw mulching. Due to over-burden weight-compaction effect, straw inter-layering somehow retarded soil infiltration. In terms of soil water evaporation, straw mulching exhibited the best effect. This was followed by straw mixing and then straw inter-layering. Straw inter-layering could have a long-lasting positive effect on soil evaporation as it limited the evaporative consumption of deep soil water. The responses of the direct straw integration modes to soil infiltration and evaporation could lay the basis for developing efficient water-conservation strategies. This is especially useful for water-scarce agricultural regions such as the arid/semi-arid regions of China.

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