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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 79 No. 3, p. 434-438
     
    Received: Apr 7, 1986


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doi:10.2134/agronj1987.00021962007900030006x

Effects of Controlled-Traffic on Soil Physical Properties and Crop Rooting

  1. T. J. Gerik,
  2. J. E. Morrison and
  3. F. W. Chichester2

Abstract

Abstract

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.

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