Localised nitrate and phosphate application enhances root proliferation by wheat and maximises rhizosphere alkalisation in acid subsoil

K. Weligama, C. Tang, P.W.G. Sale, Mark Conyers, De Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The soil pH in the vicinity of the roots can be changed by an imbalance in supply of predominant anions or cations. A soil column experiment examined the effects of localised supply of nitrate and P on plant growth and pH change in a Podosol (pH 3.76 in 0.01 M CaCl2 and pH buffering capacity 0.81 cmol kg'1 pH'1). Nitrate [(Ca(NO3)2] and P [(NaH2PO4)] fertilizers were applied alone or in combination to either 0'5 cm or 10'15 cm layer of the soil column. Aluminium-tolerant (ET8) and sensitive (ES8) wheat (Triticum aestivum, L) were grown for 38 days. Plant height, water use and tiller number were measured during the growth period. Biomass production, root growth and soil pH were determined at the final harvest. On average, ET8 had a greater shoot biomass, root length and water use than ES8. The greatest shoot biomass and water use were achieved where N and P were applied together in the 0'5 cm layer, followed by N and P together in the 10'15 cm layer and the lowest where N was applied in the 0'5 cm and P in the 10'15 cm layer. Root length density in the subsoil was greatest where N and P were applied together followed by N alone, and the lowest with the supply of P alone. The effect of localised supply was greater on rhizosphere pH than bulk soil pH. The application of N and P together in topsoil and subsoil layers increased rhizosphere pH by 0.4 and 0.5 units respectively, compared to the corresponding layers in the treatment where N and P were applied uniformly in the whole soil column. Changes in rhizosphere pH were similar under both genotypes, although ET8 produced more roots than ES8 in the soil profile. The results suggest that the combined application of nitrate and P is necessary to maximise root proliferation and root-induced alkalisation in acid subsoil.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-115
Number of pages15
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume312
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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