The long-term effects of tillage practice and phosphorus fertilization on the distribution and morphology of corn root.

Li, H., Mollier, A., Ziadi, N., Shi, Y., Parent, L.-É., and Morel, C. (2016). "The long-term effects of tillage practice and phosphorus fertilization on the distribution and morphology of corn root.", Plant and Soil, pp. 1-18. doi : 10.1007/s11104-016-2925-y  Access to full text

Abstract

Background and aims: Relevant soil properties and nutrient distributions influencing crop root growth might be different under no-till (NT) and mouldboard plough (MP) management. The possible different root systems within different managements might have key impact on crop nutrient uptake and consequently crop production. Our objective was to assess the long-term combined effects of tillage and phosphorus (P) fertilization on corn (Zea mays L.) root distribution and morphology. Methods: Corn root and soil samples were collected during the silking stage at five depths (0–5, 5–10, 10–20, 20–30 and 30–40 cm) and three horizontal distances perpendicular to the corn row (5, 15 and 25 cm) under MP and NT with three P fertilizations (0, 17.5, and 35 kg P ha−1) for a long-term (22 years) experiment in eastern Canada. Root morphology and soil properties were determined. Results: NT practice decreased corn root biomass by −26 % compared to MP, mainly by decreasing the primary and secondary roots. Additionally, corn roots in NT tend to be more expansive on the surface layer with higher root length and surface densities for the depth of 0–5 cm at two sampling distances of 15 and 25 cm. The 35 kg P ha−1 rate increased the root biomass by 26 and 41 % compared to the 0 and 17.5 kg P ha−1 rates. Conclusions: No-tillage practice and low rates of P fertilization reduce corn roots. This is probably caused by the weed competition in NT and the continued downward P status with low P rates over 22 years.

Date modified: