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Modifying soil structure using plant roots

Löfkvist, John (2005). Modifying soil structure using plant roots. Diss. (sammanfattning/summary) Uppsala : Sveriges lantbruksuniv., Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae, 1652-6880 ; 2005:60
ISBN 91-576-6959-7
[Doctoral thesis]

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Compaction in the subsoil may lead to permanent yield losses. The main objectives of this thesis was to test the possibility of using plant roots to modify soil structure and to use laboratory screening methods to find plant species suitable for penetrating strong soil. Two laboratory screening methods were tested. The first method used soft and hard wax layers installed in sand cores. The proportion of roots penetrating the hard relative to the soft layer was highest for lucerne, intermediate for chicory, lupin and red clover, and lowest for barley. The second method used natural soil compacted by different vertical stresses. Measurements of root length density showed that lucerne had a greater ability to establish a deep root system in compacted soil than barley and lupin. A field experiment was carried out to test the possibility to use plant roots to modify subsoil structure. The complete area of all plots except the control plots were compacted by a dump truck (weight 30 Mg) prior to the start of the experiments. The plant species studied were lupin (Lupinus luteus L.), lucerne (Medicago sativa L.), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea L.), chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Tall fescue had the highest root length density (RLD) at 30-35 cm depth, but RLD of chicory and lucerne were also fairly high. Chicory had the largest effect on subsoil structure, as estimated by saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) at 30-35 cm depth, closely followed by lucerne. Abundance of earthworms was related to tillage intensity and was consistently higher in plots of perennial crops. The influence of earthworms on Ksat was lower than that of plant roots. Two field experiments were carried out to study mechanical subsoiling in combination with: a) incorporation of slaked lime and b) the use of plant roots as reinforcement of the loosened soil. Incorporation of slaked lime increased stability of the modified soil structure. Growing crops of lucerne prolonged the effect of subsoiling on Ksat. Conventional mechanical subsoiling gave short-lived results.

Authors/Creators:Löfkvist, John
Title:Modifying soil structure using plant roots
Series Name/Journal:Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
Year of publishing :2005
Number of Pages:50
ALLI. Löfkvist, J., Whalley, W.R., & Clark, L.J. 2005. A rapid screening method for good root-penetration ability: Comparison of species with very different root morphology. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica Section B-Soil and Plant. In press II. Löfkvist, J. & Arvidsson, J. A method for screening the ability of different crops to penetrate compacted soil and increase hydraulic conductivity. Manuscript III. Löfkvist, J. Biological sub-soiling – field trials testing the ability of six different species to act as ‘biological subsoilers’. Manuscript IV. Löfkvist, J. Comparing two common methods of determining saturated hydraulic conductivity coefficient in soil. Manuscript V. Svantesson, U. & Löfkvist, J. Mechanical, biological and chemical improvement of subsoil structure. Manuscript
Place of Publication:Uppsala
ISBN for printed version:91-576-6959-7
Publication Type:Doctoral thesis
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:P Natural resources > P33 Soil chemistry and physics
F Plant production > F07 Soil cultivation
Subjects:Not in use, please see Agris categories
Agrovoc terms:roots, length, translocation, rooting, medicago sativa, cichorium intybus, lupinus luteus, trifolium pratense, hordeum vulgare, festuca arundinacea, oligochaeta, soil structure, subsoil, subsoiling, laboratory experimentation, pot experimentation
Keywords:root growth, soil structure, subsoil compaction, subsoil loosening, saturated hydraulic conductivity
Permanent URL:
ID Code:838
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Soil Sciences (until 081001)
Deposited By: John Löfkvist
Deposited On:07 Jun 2005 00:00
Metadata Last Modified:02 Dec 2014 10:07

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