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Maize root morphology responses to soil penetration resistance related to tillage and drought in a clayey soil

  • Y. B. HE (a1), L. R. LIN (a1) and J. Z. CHEN (a1)


Crops often experience combined soil stresses. Root responses to soil penetration resistance (PR) and drought stress can be an important basis for crop management. In 2013/14, a 2-year experiment was conducted to evaluate the effect of tillage treatment and drought stress (no irrigation for 4, 12 and 20 days during the V10–V16 growth stage) on the root length, diameter, cortex and cortical cell, and grain yield of maize (Zea mays L.) in a clayey red soil in southern China. Total root length and average root diameter were significantly correlated with soil PR and moisture. The cortical cell file number increased with soil PR and drought stress, while cortical cell size increased only with soil PR. Soil PR and moisture played different roles in maize root morphology modifications, but were both affected by tillage practices. Deep ploughing and conventional tillage increased soil moisture under severe drought stress conditions, whereas soil compaction and no-till significantly increased soil PR. The results indicate that high PR in clayey red soil was responsible for a decrease in maize root size and grain yield under drought conditions.


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