Library Dissertation Showcase

The effects of soil bulk density on the morphology and mechanical properties of Raphanus sativus

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2023

Compaction is a crucial element that defines the structure of soil, which is capable of altering the porosity and bulk density of the soil. Increased soil bulk density can be caused by the heavy mechanical loads of modern agricultural machinery, resulting in strong soil that alters the growth of crops. In this study, the effects of soil bulk density were tested on radishes (Raphanus sativus) by comparing morphological and mechanical changes observed in plants grown in soil with a low and high bulk density. Soil with a higher bulk density had a significantly greater soil shear  strength of the than the low bulk density treatments (F (1,18) = 381.33, P < 0.01). Soil strength affected the shoot and root systems of Raphanus sativus, but did not have a significant effect on the mechanical properties of root core samples. It was found that roots grown in strong soil were thicker at the base of the stem and tapered more rapidly when compared to roots grown in weak soil. Shoot height and taproot length was also found to be significantly reduced in plants grown in strong soil. This study shows that plants are able to respond to changes in soil strength, but this may impact negatively on the shape and quality of the root produced from a commercial agricultural perspective. Furthermore, this study also highlights the importance of soil management and how it is crucial to reduce soil compaction to maintain quality in root crop production systems.

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