Original Articles

The effect of removing maize surface residue from the seed-row on seedzone temperature, soil water and maize development

Published in: South African Journal of Plant and Soil
Volume 6, issue 2, 1989 , pages: 108–112
DOI: 10.1080/02571862.1989.10634492
Author(s): W., A.J. BerrySummer Grain Sub-Centre, Republic of South Africa, J.B. MallettSummer Grain Sub-Centre, Republic of South Africa

Abstract

Early maize development is generally less rapid in the cooler soils of tillage systems which maintain large amounts of crop residues (stubble) on the soil surface. However, soil water storage tends to increase with increasing amount of surface cover, and therefore, a study was conducted in which uniformly distributed maize stubble (92% cover) was raked away from the planter rows to produce 0, 80 and 320-mm bare soil bands (BSB) over the seed-rows, or ploughed under in accordance with standard fallow period field management practices (conventional tillage). Maximum and hourly mean soil temperatures measured in the seedzone (50-mm depth) during the planting to tassel initiation period increased with increase in width of BSB and approached the values measured under the bare surface of conventional tillage (CT). However, soil water contents decreased with increasing BSB and played the dominant role in reducing the number of days from planting to 80% maize emergence, with fewer days being required as BSB decreased. Rates of leaf area development increased with increasing maximum and hourly mean soil temperatures (or width of BSB). Although CT had the most favourable soil temperatures for seedling establishment, low soil water contents, particularly during early growth, reduced plant vigour and grain yield.

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