Impact of living mulches on the physical properties of Planosol in monocropped maize cultivation
 
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1
Institute of Agroecosystems and Soil Science, Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Studentu 11, 53361 Akademija, Kaunas reg., Lithuania
2
Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Safety, Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Studentu 15, 53362 Akademija, Kaunas reg., Lithuania
3
Experimental Station, Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Rapsu 7, 53363, Noreikiskes, Kaunas reg., Lithuania
4
Department of Agroecosystems, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Plac Łódzki 3, 10-900 Olsztyn
Publish date: 2018-04-17
 
Int. Agrophys. 2018, 32(2): 165–173
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ABSTRACT
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.
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