Simulation of soil drying induced phosphorus deficiency and phosphorus mobilization as determinants of maize growth near tree lines on a Ferralsol uri icon

abstract

  • Measured maize yield near Cassia was 115%, unaffected by trees. Model simulations predicted it should be reduced to 80%, due to direct competition for P between tree and crop. This suggests that rhizosphere modifications measured near Cassia roots probably supplied P to the tree itself and also to the maize crop.
  • On P-limiting tropical soils, it is important to prevent soil drying to avoid soil drying induced P deficiency. In these conditions tree species that are able to mobilize P can prevent competition with the crop and may even increase crop performance. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • Understanding the effect trees have on the growth of crops requires an understanding of the multiple interacting processes that determine resource uptake by the crops. On a Ferralsol in sub-humid western Kenya maize (Zea mays L.) growth was primarily limited by phosphorus availability. We observed that maize growth near grevillea (Grevillea robusta A. Cunn.) tree lines was strongly reduced, while maize growth was slightly increased near cassia (Cassia spectabilis DC (syn. Senna spectabilis, DC, H.S. Irwin and R.C. Bameby). This was contrary to expectations because grevillea has a relatively low nutrient demand while Cassia has a relatively high nutrient demand.
  • Understanding the effect trees have on the growth of crops requires an understanding of the multiple interacting processes that determine resource uptake by the crops. On a Ferralsol in sub-humid western Kenya maize (Zea mays L.) growth was primarily limited by phosphorus availability. We observed that maize growth near grevillea (Grevillea robusta A. Cunn.) tree lines was strongly reduced, while maize growth was slightly increased near cassia (Cassia spectabilis DC (syn. Senna spectabilis, DC, H.S. Irwin and R.C. Barneby). This was contrary to expectations because grevillea has a relatively low nutrient demand while Cassia has a relatively high nutrient demand. We compared maize growth in an experiment with simulations using the mechanistic tree-crop interaction model WaNuLCAS. The model simulations showed that the measured 30-40% decrease in maize growth near the Grevillea tree line was due to 0.025 m3 m-3 lower soil water contents (at mean levels of 0.35 m3 m-3 and high pF). This was not due to direct water limitation. The lower soil water content caused decreased P diffusion to roots and a cumulative decrease in crop root-growth and a concomitant decrease in crop growth over time. Measured maize yield near Cassia was 115%, unaffected by trees. Model simulations predicted it should be reduced to 80% due to direct competition for P between tree and cropThis suggests that rhizosphere modifications measured near Cassia roots probably supplied P to the tree itself and also to the maize crop On P-limiting tropical soils, it is important to prevent soil drying to avoid soil drying induced P deficiency. In these conditions tree species that are able to mobilize P can prevent competition with the crop and may even increase crop performance
  • We compared maize growth in an experiment with simulations using the mechanistic tree-crop interaction model WaNuLCAS. The model simulations showed that the measured 30-40% decrease in maize growth new the Grevillea tree line was due to 0.025 m(3) m(-3) lower soil water contents (at mean levels of 0.35 m(3) m(-3) and high pF). This was not due to direct water limitation. The lower soil water content caused decreased P diffusion to roots and a cumulative decrease in crop root-growth and a concomitant decrease in crop growth over time.

publication date

  • 2005
  • 2005
  • 2005