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Impact of living mulches on the physical properties of Planosol in monocropped maize cultivation

Romaneckas, Kęstutis, Adamavičienė, Aida, Šarauskis, Egidijus, Kriaučiūnienė, Zita, Marks, Marek, Vaitauskienė, Kristina
International agrophysics 2018 v.32 no.2 pp. 165-173
Brassica napus, Lolium multiflorum, Planosols, Sinapis alba subsp. alba, Trifolium pratense, Trifolium resupinatum, agroecosystems, continuous cropping, corn, crops, field experimentation, growing season, live mulches, physical properties, shear strength, soil properties, spring barley, summer, vegetative growth, water content, weeds
The complex mutual interactions between soil properties and plants in high-biodiversity mono-cropping agro ecosystems have not been widely investigated. For this purpose, during 2009-2011, a stationary field experiment was conducted at the Experimental Station of the Aleksandras Stulginskis University to establish the effect of a multi-component agrocenose (maize, living mulch, weeds) on the physical properties of the soil. Spring oilseed rape, white mustard, spring barley, Italian ryegrass, black medic, Persian clover and red clover were sown as living mulch into maize inter-rows. The stability of >1.0 mm aggregates increased between the beginning and end of the maize vegetative period in almost all of the crops containing living mulch. The greatest competition for moisture content between the inter-crops and maize was observed at the beginning of the vegetative period because of living mulches of long growing seasons using the most moisture. In many cases, the shear strength of the soil was significantly reduced by the living mulch in the middle of summer, when it covered the maize inter-rows. These findings show that the monocropping of maize with living mulch stabilises or improves the physical characteristics of the soil, highlighting its potential for sustainable maize growing.