Soil water repellency decreases summer maize growth
A two-year summer maize irrigation experiment was conducted in soil lysimeters under a rain-shelter to analyze the effects of water repellency on soil moisture, evapotranspiration, crop growth, and yields. Soil water droplet penetration time (WDPT) was initially 1, 7, 9, 12 and 16 s, showing wettable or slight water repellency, denoted as the treatments CK, WR1, WR2, WR3, and WR4, respectively. Soil water storage dynamics were observed using the lysimeters. The WDPT and volumetric soil water content (θv) on surface soil was measured daily. The results revealed that WDPT values of all the five treatments increased significantly as the sowing days increased and reached peaks before the subsequent irrigation. However, the peak decreased as irrigation events increased. The maximum WDPT values of CK, WR1, WR2, WR3, and WR4 were 31, 2000, 2200, 2300 and 2355s during the entire crop growth period, and indicated more persistent water repellency than the initial conditions. During the two irrigations, θv decreased with the increase of WDPT. The daily and cumulative evapotranspiration at the early growth stage differed slightly but decreased from CK to WR4 at the later crop growth stages. Likewise, soil water storage increased. The higher water consumption of summer maize in CK resulted in lower soil water storage and good plant growth, thus in soils with higher WDPTs, the lower values of LAI, the mass of roots and leaves, and root lengths were noted. The crop growth decreased regularly with the increase in initial WDPT. The main reason was due to a decrease in soil water availability for the crop and impeded root water uptake as the initial WDPT increased. The variation in initial WDPTs had a significant impact on WUE. In conclusion, more persistent water repellent soils result in a decrease in summer maize growth.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordssoil water repellency; water droplet penetration time; volumetric soil water content; growth; summer maize
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