Currently, the agricultural water shortage in China has become more and more serious. It is of great importance for scientists and engineers to figure out the ways to utilize the limited water resources efficiently for irrigation. This paper proposes a new irrigation concept which combines advanced soil moisture conserving techniques available in the semi-arid and arid regions of China with the design of water-saving irrigation systems. To show the effectiveness of the new concept, straw mulching used widely in China, a soil moisture conserving technique, was tested in irrigation systems. The experimental results show the way soil moisture, soil microorganism, soil temperature, ecological and physiological indices and maize productivity were affected by straw mulching under irrigation and the improved performance indices with the combination of soil moisture conserving techniques with irrigation systems, which contributed to a higher water use efficiency. It is believed that the combination of soil moisture conserving techniques with irrigation systems will be a new trial for the water-saving irrigation of China, particularly for the semi-arid and arid areas.