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Root Penetration of Douglas-fir Seedlings into Compacted Soil

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This experiment was designed to examine the relationship of soil compaction to root growth in one sandy loam and two loam soil materials. The experiment was conducted under controlled environment using test cores of experimentally compacted soils ranging in bulk density (BD) from 1.3 to 1.77 g/cm³. Root penetration of 35- to 45-day-old seedlings varied considerably among seedlings but generally declined linearly with increase in BD (r² for each soil varied from 0.60 to 0.71). Using the regression equations, the values for BD estimated to prevent root penetration by most seedlings, varied from 1.74 to 1.83 g/cm³. These values are higher than previously reported for Douglas-fir but generally compare to those reported for other plants in loam soils. The corresponding pore space at which rooting was prevented varied from 30 to 27 percent. When downward growth was restricted by high BD most roots grew laterally in the uncompacted surface soil to a greater total length than they grew vertically at the lowest BD level. Top growth of seedlings in this experiment was not significantly affected by BD. Root impedance in relation to effects of compaction and variability of root penetration among seedlings are discussed. Forest Sci. 27:660-666.
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Keywords: Pseudotsuga menziesii; soil bulk density; total soil porosity

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Forest Scientist, Western Washington Research and Extension Center, Puyallup, Washington 98371

Publication date: 1981-12-01

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    Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
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    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

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    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

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