109(4)_str 37

ISSN 1392-3196 / e-ISSN 2335-8947
Zemdirbyste-Agriculture, vol. 109, No. 4 (2022), p. 291–296
DOI 10.13080/z-a.2022.109.037

Response of spring barley root and soil physical properties to changes under cover crop and different tillage



Cover cropping is a successful soil conservation technique, but it has limitations and must be recognised as part of a well-planned integrated farming system. Environmental conditions, soil type, crop, and tillage method are factors that should be taken into consideration before building cover crops into the farming system. The aim of this study was to explore the effect of cover crop management under different tillage practices on the spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) root growth and the interaction with soil hydrophysical properties. The experiment was conducted in Central Lithuania in Endocalcari-Epihypogleyic Cambisol, a loam texture soil. The split-plot experiment was conducted: tillage – ploughing, harrowing, and direct drilling, as subplot, and cover crop – with cover crop and without cover crop, as main plot. A significantly higher total porosity and microporosity of topsoil was identified in ploughing, and direct drilling resulted in a significantly higher soil bulk density, lower total porosity and microporosity, but did not change meso- and microporosity. The establishment of cover crop has resulted in a significantly higher soil microporosity and lower mesoporosity as well as tended to decrease the soil bulk density and to increase the root diameter and volume for all tillage treatments in a 5–20 cm layer. The root length and root volume of spring barley positively correlated with the soil total porosity, whereas the correlation of root parameters with the bulk density was negative. The influence of the cover crop and tillage interaction was significant for the soil bulk density and root diameter.

Keywords: deep ploughing, shallow harrowing, direct drilling, cover crop management, root growth.

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