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Subsoil constraints in Vertosols: Crop water use nutrient concentration, and grain yields of bread wheat, durum wheat, barley, chickpea and canola

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Dang, Y.P., Routley, R., McDonald, M., Dalal, R.C., Singh, D.K., Orange, D. and Mann, M. (2006) Subsoil constraints in Vertosols: Crop water use nutrient concentration, and grain yields of bread wheat, durum wheat, barley, chickpea and canola. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 57 (9). pp. 983-998.


Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AR05268

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au


Single or multiple factors implicated in subsoil constraints including salinity, sodicity, and phytotoxic concentrations of chloride (Cl) are present in many Vertosols including those occurring in Queensland, Australia. The variable distribution and the complex interactions that exist between these constraints limit the agronomic or management options available to manage the soil with these subsoil constraints. The identification of crops and cultivars adapted to these adverse subsoil conditions and/or able to exploit subsoil water may be an option to maintain productivity of these soils. We evaluated relative performance of 5 winter crop species, in terms of grain yields, nutrient concentration, and ability to extract soil water, grown on soils with various levels and combinations of subsoil constraints in 19 field experiments over 2 years. Subsoil constraints were measured by levels of soil Cl, electrical conductivity of the saturation extract (ECse), and exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP). Increasing levels of subsoil constraints significantly decreased maximum depth of water extraction, grain yield, and plant-available water capacity for all the 5 crops and more so for chickpea and durum wheat than bread wheat, barley, or canola. Increasing soil Cl levels had a greater restricting effect on water availability than did ECse and ESP. We developed empirical relationships between soil Cl, ECse, and ESP and crop lower limit (CLL) for estimating subsoil water extraction by 5 winter crops. However, the presence of gypsum influenced the ability to predict CLL based on the levels of ECse. Stronger relationships between apparent unused plant-available water (CLL - LL15; LL15 is lower limit at -1.5 MPa) and soil Cl concentrations than ESP or ECse suggested that the presence of high Cl in these soils most likely inhibited the subsoil water extraction by the crops. This was supported by increased sodium (Na) and Cl concentration with a corresponding decrease in calcium (Ca) and potassium (K) in young mature leaf of bread wheat, durum wheat, and chickpea with increasing levels of subsoil constraints. Of the 2 ions, Na and Cl, the latter appears to be more damaging than the former, resulting in plant dieback and reduced grain yields.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Reproduced with permission from © CSIRO Publishing. Access to published version may be available via Publisher’s website.
Keywords:Chloride toxicity; crop lower limit; plant available water capacity; salinity; sodicity.
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science > Soil and crops. Soil-plant relationships. Soil productivity
Plant culture > Field crops
Live Archive:02 Feb 2009 00:50
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:43

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