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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 74 No. 5, p. 875-879
    Received: Oct 9, 1981

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Physical Factors Influencing Soil Strength and Root Growth1

  1. C. J. Gerard,
  2. P. Sexton and
  3. G. Shaw2



Soil compaction is a major factor which influences root growth and crop yields. Studies were conducted to determine the influence of different factors on mechanical impedance and to determine the influence of mechanical impedance and other soil factors on root growth. Regression models for dependent variables, soil strength and root growth, vs. the independent variables, soil type, soil depth, clay content, bulk density, voids, and water content were computed using the maximum R2 improvement by stepwise regression. The models for soil strength and root growth varied with soil type, soil depth, and/or clay content. The soils used were a Miles fine sandy loam, Udic Paleustalf and an Abilene clay loam, Pachic Argiustoll. Soil strength for both soils studied and at all depths was influenced by bulk density, voids, and clay content. The overall equational models accounted for 75% of the variability in soil strength and 76% of the variability in root growth. Root growth in both soils and at all depths was significantly influenced by soil strength, volumetric water content, voids, and clay content. The critical strength in bars, defined as the probe pressure at which root elongation stopped, was a function of % clay. The critical strength ranged from 60 to 70 bars in coarsetextured to 25 bars in clay soils. These data provide a better understanding of the influence of mechanical impedance on root growth, and a basis for determining the need for use of deep tillage to minimize the adverse effects of excessive soil strength or compaction.

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