Alfalfa Stand Losses from Irrigation: Influence of Soil Temperature, Texture, and Aeration Status1
- B. D. Meek,
- T. J. Donovan and
- L. E. Graham2
Losses of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) occur under the combination of high summer temperatures and clay soils. This paper examines the relationship between these losses and soil temperature, texture, and aeration. The study consisted of short tests (one irrigation) and long-term experiments (2.5 yr) in the field, and gas exchange experiments in a greenhouse. The design for the field experiments was a randomized block with four replications for the short-term experiments and three replications for the long-term experiment. It was necessary to flood 56 h (silty clay soil under high temperatures) to damage alfalfa in the field. Root damage was only 1% in a clay loam soil compared to 10% in a silty clay soil (56-h flooding time and high temperature). Sufficient water could not be applied in the long term experiment to the alfalfa to leach salts (84% Epan treatment) without severe losses in stand. Long flooding times (96 h) at medium temperatures (maximum air temperature 32°C) did not result in root damage to the alfalfa. Oxygen deficiency, not ethylene toxicity, seemed to be the problem when alfalfa was flooded. Ethylene levels in the field were low and symptoms of toxicity were not observed. In the greenhouse, no damage to alfalfa occurred until O2 fell to 0.01 L/L at high temperatures. Results of this experiment indicate that there is a high probability of damage to grower fields when O2 stress under high temperature extends over many irrigations.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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