Fibrous carrot root responses to irrigation and compaction of sandy and organic soils

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Abstract

Field experiments were performed in Southern Finland on fine sand and organic soil in 1990 and 1991 to study carrot roots. Fall ploughed land was loosened by rotary harrowing to a depth of 20 cm or compacted under moist conditions to a depth of 25–30 cm by three passes of adjacent wheel tracks with a tractor weighing 3 Mg, in April were contiguously applied across the plot before seed bed preparation. Sprinkler irrigation (30 mm) was applied to fine sand when moisture in the 0–15 cm range of soil depth was 50% of plant-available water capacity. For root sampling, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) cylinders (30 × 60 cm) were installed in the rows of experimental plots after sowing, and removed at harvest. Six carrot plants were grown in each of in these soil colums in situ in the field.

Fine root length and width were quantified by image analysis. Root length density (RLD) per plant was 0.2–1.0 cm cm−3 in the 0–30 cm range. The fibrous root system of one carrot had total root lengths of 130–150 m in loose fine sand and 180–200 m in compacted fine sand. More roots were observed in irrigated than non-irrigated soils. In the 0–50 cm range of organic soil, 230–250 m of root length were removed from loosened organic soils and 240–300 m from compacted soils. Specific root surface area (surface area divided by dry root weight) of a carrot fibrous root system averaged 1500–2000 cm2 g−1. Root length to weight ratios of 250–350 m g−1 effectively compare with the ratios of other species.

Fibrous root growth was stimulated by soil compaction or irrigation to a depth of 30 cm, in both the fine sand and organic soils, suggesting better soil water supply in compacted than in loosened soils. Soil compaction increased root diameters more in fine sand than it did in organic soil. Most of the root length in loosened soils (fine sand 90%, organic soil 80%) and compacted soils (fine sand 80%, organic soil 75%) was composed of roots with diameters of approximately 0.15 mm. With respect to dry weight, length, surface area and volume of the fibrous root system, all the measurements gave significant resposes to irrigation and soil compaction. Total root volumes in the 0–50 cm of soil were 4.3 cm3 and 9.8 cm3 in loosened fine sand and organic soils, respectively, and 6.7 cm3 and 13.4 cm3 in compacted sand and organic soils, respectively. In fine sand, irrigation increased the volume from 4.8 to 6.3 cm3.

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