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LSP Report LS7006

Management of Fine Textured Poorly Drained Soils for
Intensive Agriculture: Characterization of a Forage Factor
Which Enhances the Growth of Corn in Rotation:
Part I


Researcher: Dr. Ann Oaks, Plant Physiologist, McMaster University, Principal Researcher for Part I. Cooperating with Dr. J.A. Stone, Soil Physicist, Harrow Research Station, Principal Researcher for Part II.

Funding: $40,000


  1. To contribute information pertaining to the development of a row crop management package which will improve and maintain soil structure. The results will establish which forage crop will enhance the growth of the subsequent corn crop and whether any of the forage crops will influence the sheath forming ability of the seedling root.

Expected Benefits

  1. To minimize losses in soil productivity and environmental hazards resulting from erosion, runoff, and compaction, and hence improve the long term market position of Ontario farmers.

Summary of Research Results

Response of corn to inoculation with forage soils in greenhouse conditions:

  1. inocula of the cropping treatment soils give substantial growth responses in a greenhouse corn growth assay
  2. growth responses are much smaller for soils collected after a corn cropping season
  3. the relative performance of the various soils are very different when collected before or after the corn crop.

Growth of corn in field plots:

  1. emergence - differences between the forage soils were small
  2. silking rate index - the highest silking rate index was observed on the alfalfa soils
  3. shoot dry weight at 6 weeks - there was more than a two fold difference between the shoots on the best soil (alfalfa) and the work soil (crested wheat grass)
  4. final yield - the top yielding group of cropping treatment soils (based on pairwise T tests) comprised soybean, corn, sweet clover, Austrian winter pea, red clover, white clover, alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil and hairy vetch. Yields on legume soils (8.93 T.ha-1) were significantly higher (P < 0.001) than on non-legume soils (6.42 T.ha-1).

Soil sheath formation (Soil aggregation and soil sheath forming ability)

There was a highly significant correlation (r = 0.78, P < 0.001) between the forage means for the December 1988 soils and the May 1989 samples. However values for a repeat run with the May samples were not significantly correlated (P < 0.05) with those for the December 1988 samples. Overall the poor reproducibility of the results both in terms of the relative sheath size with the different forage soils and the absolute sheath size suggest that the measurements made are of limited use.



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Created: 03-23-1996
Last Revised: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 11:41:26 AM