Corn root length density and root diameter as affected by soil compaction and soil water content

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2007-01-01

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Negative effects of soil compaction have been recognized as one of the problems restricting the root system and consequently impairing yields, especially in the Southern Coastal Plain of the USA. Simulations of the root restricting layers in green house studies are necessary for the development of mechanism which alleviates soil compaction problems in these soils. The selection of three distinct bulk densities based on the standard proctor test is also an important factor to determine which bulk density restricts the root layer. The experiment was conducted to assess the root length density and root diameter of the corn (Zea mays L.) crop as a function of bulk density and water stress, characterized by the soil density (1.2; 1.4, and 1.6 g cm -3), and two levels of the water content, approximately (70 and 90% field capacity). The statistical design adopted was completely randomized design, with four replicates in a factorial pattern of (3 × 2). The PVC tubes were superimposed with an internal diameter of 20 cm with a height of 40 cm (the upper tube 20 cm, compacted and inferior tube 10 cm), the hardpan with different levels of soil compaction were located between 20 and 30 cm of the depth of the pot. Results showed that: the main effects of subsoil mechanical impedance were observed on the top layer indicating that the plants had to penetrate beyond the favorable soil conditions before root growth was affected from 3.16; 2.41 to 1.37 cm cm -3 (P<0.005). There was a significant difference at the hardpan layer for the two levels of water and 90% field capacity reduced the root growth from 0.91 to 0.60 cm cm -3 (P<0.005). The root length density and root diameter were affected by increasing soil bulk density from 1.2 to 1.6 g cm -3 which caused penetration resistance to increase to 1.4 MPa. Soil water content of 70% field capacity furnished better root growth in all the layers studied. The increase in root length density resulted in increased root volume. It can also be concluded that the effect of soil compaction impaired the root diameter mostly at the hardpan layer. Soil temperature had detrimental effect on the root growth mostly with higher bulk densities.

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Inglês

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Irriga, v. 12, n. 1, p. 14-26, 2007.

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