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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 5, p. 591-594
    Received: Mar 12, 1965
    Accepted: May 3, 1965

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Rooting Volume of Corn and Alfalfa in Shale-Influenced Soils in Northwestern Illinois1

  1. J. B. Fehrenbacher,
  2. B. W. Ray and
  3. W. M. Edwards2



Corn roots (Zea mays L.) did not penetrate calcareous Maquoketa shale (IIC) horizons appreciably in four soils derived from thin loess on shale in northwestern Illinois. Alfalfa roots (Medicago sativa L.), in contrast, penetrated the shale horizons to considerable depths. This difference in rooting behavior of the two plants probably explains the better adaptation of a perennial taprooted plant such as alfalfa to these soils than an annual plant such as corn. The shale (IIC) horizons had low total porosities (<38%), very low noncapillary porosities (<1.5%), high bulk densities (>1.69 g/cc), and were impermeable to water. Bulk density slightly greater than 1.80 g/cc and intraped porosity of slightly less than 32% of discrete peds in the IIC horizons appear to be limiting to corn root penetration. Seepage and erosion problems on these soils are related to the impermeable nature and depth to the underlying shale.

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