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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 19 No. 4, p. 468-473
    Received: Oct 29, 1954

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Subirrigation and Plant Nutrition I. Alfalfa Root Distribution and Soil Properties1

  1. R. L. Fox and
  2. R. C. Lipps2



Root systems of subirrigated alfalfa plants and some associated soil properties have been studied. Under certain conditions a concentration of fibrous roots occurred in saturated soil above and below the water table. Roots occurred in abundance in pockets of fine sand and silt while adjacent pockets of moist sand and gravel were essentially devoid of roots. These observations and soil analyses suggest that root distribution is, in part, governed by nutrient availability.

Nodules occurred in abundance in the A horizon of a buried soil while the surface soil, which was more acid, contained roots without nodules and with only limited branching. Alfalfa roots penetrated soil horizons which contained much sodium. They branched extensively in a region of high sodium where calcium and magnesium were present in abundance.

Root distribution of subirrigated alfalfa suggests two important regions of water and nutrient sorption. These are the moisture fringe above the water table and the surface soil. Both should be considered when interpreting soil tests, evaluating results of fertilizer experiments, and explaining plant growth variations.

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