Plant density is among the most critical factors affecting plant yields and resource use efficiency since it drives the exploitation of the available resources per unit area, root distribution and soil water losses by direct evaporation from the soil. Consequently, in fine-textured soils, it can also affect the formation and development of desiccation cracks. The aim of this study, carried out on a sandy clay loam soil in a typical Mediterranean environment, was to investigate the effects of different row spacings of maize (Zea mais L.) on yield response, root distribution and the main features of desiccation cracks. The field experiment compared bare soil and soil cropped with maize using three plant densities (6, 4 and 3 plants m−2), obtained by keeping the number of plants in a row constant and varying the distance between the rows (0.5–0.75–1.0 m). The highest kernel yield (16.57 Mg ha−1) was obtained with the greatest planting density (6 plants m−2) with a row spacing of 0.5 m; significantly lower yields were recorded with spacings of 0.75 and 1 m, with a decrease of 8.09% and 18.24%, respectively. At the end of the growing season, soil moisture in the bare soil was on average 4% greater in comparison to the cropped soil and was also affected by row spacing, decreasing with the decrease in the inter-row distance. An inverse behaviour was observed between soil moisture and both root density and desiccation crack size. Root density decreased to the increase in soil depth and to the increase in distance from the row. The pluviometric regime occurred during the growing season (total rainfall of 343 mm)-resulted in the formation of cracks of reduced size and with an isotropic behaviour in the bare soil, whereas in the cultivated soil, the cracks were parallel to the maize rows and increased in size with decreasing inter-row distance. The total volume of the soil cracks reached a value of 135.65 m3 ha−1 in the soil cropped with a row distance of 0.5 m, and was about ten times greater in comparison to the bare soil and three times greater in comparison to a row spacing of 1 m. Such a volume would allow a recharge of 14 mm in the case of intense rainy events on soil characterised by low permeability.

Maize Yield Response, Root Distribution and Soil Desiccation Crack Features as Affected by Row Spacing

De Corato U.;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Plant density is among the most critical factors affecting plant yields and resource use efficiency since it drives the exploitation of the available resources per unit area, root distribution and soil water losses by direct evaporation from the soil. Consequently, in fine-textured soils, it can also affect the formation and development of desiccation cracks. The aim of this study, carried out on a sandy clay loam soil in a typical Mediterranean environment, was to investigate the effects of different row spacings of maize (Zea mais L.) on yield response, root distribution and the main features of desiccation cracks. The field experiment compared bare soil and soil cropped with maize using three plant densities (6, 4 and 3 plants m−2), obtained by keeping the number of plants in a row constant and varying the distance between the rows (0.5–0.75–1.0 m). The highest kernel yield (16.57 Mg ha−1) was obtained with the greatest planting density (6 plants m−2) with a row spacing of 0.5 m; significantly lower yields were recorded with spacings of 0.75 and 1 m, with a decrease of 8.09% and 18.24%, respectively. At the end of the growing season, soil moisture in the bare soil was on average 4% greater in comparison to the cropped soil and was also affected by row spacing, decreasing with the decrease in the inter-row distance. An inverse behaviour was observed between soil moisture and both root density and desiccation crack size. Root density decreased to the increase in soil depth and to the increase in distance from the row. The pluviometric regime occurred during the growing season (total rainfall of 343 mm)-resulted in the formation of cracks of reduced size and with an isotropic behaviour in the bare soil, whereas in the cultivated soil, the cracks were parallel to the maize rows and increased in size with decreasing inter-row distance. The total volume of the soil cracks reached a value of 135.65 m3 ha−1 in the soil cropped with a row distance of 0.5 m, and was about ten times greater in comparison to the bare soil and three times greater in comparison to a row spacing of 1 m. Such a volume would allow a recharge of 14 mm in the case of intense rainy events on soil characterised by low permeability.
2023
Crack features
Crack surface and volume
In situ mapping of root spatial distribution
Plant density
Soil evaporation
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12079/75487
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