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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Effects of Plant-Water Stress on Root Distribution of Corn, Soybeans, and Peanuts in Sandy Soil1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 72 No. 3, p. 548-550
    Received: Aug 6, 1979

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  1. W. K. Robertson,
  2. L. C. Hammond,
  3. J. T. Johnson and
  4. K. J. Boote2



The efficient recovery by crops of added nutrients and water is influenced by plant rooting characteristics. Published data on the relationship of irrigation water and root distribution of certain crops grown on sandy soils in humid regions are lmited and needed. This field study was a part of an investigation on three soil types to determine the effect of plant-water stress and irrigation on root distribution of corn (Zea mays L.), soybeans [Glycine max (L.) Merr.], and peanuts (Arachis hypogaea L.). The basic irrigation plan was to replenish the water deficit in only the top 30 to 60 an of the soil profile. Depth of wetting and the degree of soil water depletion below the irrigated soil layer varied with irrigation frequency and amount of water per application. Although treatments were not the same in the four experiments reported, the major part of the study involved four water management treatments: 1) no irrigation; 2) light, infrequent irrigation; 3) light, frequent irrigation; and 4) medium, infrequent irrigation. Seed yields were obtained at maturity and root length measurements were made at full canopy. Root lengths per unit volume of soil were measured by the Line intercept method. Yields of corn and peanuts increased with total amount of irrigation water used, but there was no yield response to irrigation in the soybean experiment. Peanut and soybean root growth (root length per unit area to a depth of 150 cm) was not affected by water management. In the corn experiments, irrigation increased the length of roots in the 150 cm soil profile. The largest root length value was found in the light, infrequent irrigation treatment. Crops vary in rooting response to plant-water stress and irrigation strategy. Limited rooting of corn under water stress very likely decreases the efficiency of water and fertilizer use.

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