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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Water Management and Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #287418

Title: Maize and sunflower root distribution in response to deficit irrigation

item Comas, Louise
item Bausch, Walter
item Trout, Thomas
item Shaner, Dale

Submitted to: American Society of Agronomy Meetings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/28/2012
Publication Date: 10/21/2012
Citation: Comas, L.H., Bausch, W.C., Trout, T.J., Shaner, D.L. 2012. Maize and sunflower root distribution in response to deficit irrigation. American Society of Agronomy Meetings. Agronomy Annual Meeting Cincinnati, OH Oct. 21-24, 2012.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In order to meet world demand for food under anticipated water shortages, we need to increase crop productivity per evapotranspiration (ET), not just the amount of irrigation applied in agricultural systems. Quantifying root distribution in response to deficit irrigation is crucial to mechanistically understanding ET response under deficit irrigation as well as modeling crop water use. We investigated three dimensional root distributions in maize and sunflower by taking a soil core at the end of the growing season from the row center, half way between row center and middle, and the row middle from plants growing under full irrigation, 70% seasonal ET, and 40% seasonal ET. Interestingly fine root distribution was similar across rows from row center to middle despite the application of drip irrigation in narrow irrigation bands in deficit treatments. Fine root distribution was also similar between treatments while aboveground plant height, leaf area, chlorophyll fluorescence, and gas exchange decreased with increased deficit. Alongside reduced yield but similar WUE with increased deficit, these results suggest that maize and sunflower will mine all available water from the soil profile with aboveground responses controlling plant water use.