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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Effect of Tillage Practice on Corn (Zea mays L.) Root Distribution and Morphology1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 63 No. 5, p. 724-726
    Received: Dec 20, 1970

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  1. S. A. Barber



Corn root distribution in a Raub silt loam was measured seven and eight years after starting eight different tillage-residue management-cropping practices with continuous corn. Root distribution was measured by taking 6.25-cm diameter cores to a 60-cm depth. Cores were taken 12.5 and 50 cm from the corn row. Roots were washed from the cores and measured for weight and length. Tillage treatments included plowing to 20 cm, chiseling to 20 cm, rototilling to 5 cm and no tillage. Plow and no tillage practices were also conducted without cropping for six years, then corn was grown. Residue treatments consisted of all residues removed, residues returned and double residues returned, using conventional plow-disk tillage.

Tillage influenced root growth. When the soil was plowed annually corn roots developed more extensively to a greater depth than where soil was not tilled or tilled to a 5-cm depth only. Removal of residues depressed root growth in the 0-10 cm depth. Roots were finer and longer/g in tilled soil than in untilled soil. They were also finer at depths below 15 cm where no crop had been grown for 6 years than where corn had been grown. The amount of root growth averaged 12 mg/cm2 in 1968 and 42 ing/cm2 in 1969 although average corn grain yields were 9380 kg/ha in 1968 and 8980 kg/ha in 1969.

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