Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Localized salt accumulation: the main reason for cotton root length decrease during advanced growth stages under drip irrigation with mulch film in a saline soil


High salinity in soil can prevent root growth of most plants. To investigate soil salinity dynamics under drip irrigation with mulch film (DI) and its effects on cotton root length, we conducted field experiments in saline soil based on a monolith method using flooding irrigation with mulch film (FI) as a control at the Korla Experimental Station of the Xinjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China in 2009 and 2010. The results showed that the total root length decreased 120 days after sowing (DAS) under DI, and was mainly centered in the 0–30 cm soil layer and at distances of 30–70 cm from the drip-lines. There was almost complete overlap in the area of root length decline and salt accumulation. In the soil depth of 0–30 cm and at distances of 30–70 cm from the drip-lines at 110 to 160 DAS in 2009 and 171 DAS in 2010, the electrical conductivity (EC) in all soil samples was at least 3 mS/cm and in some cases exceeded 5 mS/cm under DI treatment. However, EC barely exceeded 3 mS/cm and no reduction in root length was observed under FI treatment. Correlation analysis of soil EC and root length density indicated that the root length declined when the soil EC exceeded 2.8 mS/cm. The main reason for the decrease of root length in cotton under DI was localized accumulation of salinity.

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