Effects of Controlled-Traffic on Soil Physical Properties and Crop Rooting
- T. J. Gerik,
- J. E. Morrison and
- F. W. Chichester2
Soil structural deterioration from wheel compaction can adversely affect crop development and root growth. This study was conducted to determine the effect of controlled-traffic lanes on soil physical properties and crop rooting for no-tillage and conventional tillage cropping systems on a swelling clay soil. Sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench], cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) were field grown over 3 yr on an Austin silty-clay (fine-silty, carbonatic, thermic Entic Haplustolls). Soil physical properties, including soil strength, bulk density, and total porosity, were not different between tillage treatments in the non-trafficked area during the crop growing season, but soil strength and bulk density were higher in the traffic lane of the no-tillage as compared to the conventional tillage treatments. Soil compaction in the traffic lanes was confined to the top 0.15-m soil layer and did not restrict root development in early stages of crop development. Root densities were lower in the top soil layer of the no-till traffic lane compared to the non-trafficked area at harvest, but were representative of values reported for these crops in the literature under conventional management practice. At depths > 0.3 m, root density was not affected by crop species, tillage, or traffic. Although controlled-traffic has been reported to improve soil physical properties and crop rooting, our data suggest it may not necessarily apply to all soils, especially soils with 40% or more 2:1 clay minerals. Soil moisture and nutrients under traffic lanes will be available to crops.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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