Effects of alternate partial root-zone irrigation on soil microorganism and maize growth

Jinfeng Wang, Shaozhong Kang*, Fusheng Li, Fucang Zhang, Zhijun Li, Jianhua ZHANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Partial root-zone irrigation creates a dynamic heterogeneous distribution of soil moisture that may affect the numbers and activities of soil microorganisms. In this study, three irrigation methods, i.e. conventional irrigation (CI), alternate partial root-zone irrigation (APRI, alternate watering on both sides of the pot) and fixed partial root-zone irrigation (FPRI, fixed watering on one side of the pot), and three watering levels, i.e. well-watered, mild and severe water deficit, were applied on pot-grown maize. Numbers of soil microorganisms, plant height, stalk diameter, leaf area and biomass accumulation were monitored over the treatment period. A quadratic parabola relationship between the number of soil microorganisms and soil water content was found, indicating the number of soil microorganisms reached a peak at the mild soil water deficit condition, possibly due to better soil aeration. The peak number of soil microorganism was obtained when soil water content was 66, 79 and 75% of field capacity for CI, FPRI and APRI, respectively. Soil microorganisms were evenly distributed in both sides of APRI and their total numbers were always higher than those under other two irrigation methods for the same soil water content. The count of soil microorganisms in the dry root zone of FPRI was reduced by a lack of water. Maximum biomass accumulation was obtained under well watered condition but severe water deficit led to a 50% reduction in the CI treatment. Such reduction was much smaller under APRI and therefore the highest water use efficiency was obtained. Our results suggest that APRI maintained the best aeration and moisture condition in the soil and enhanced the activities of soil microorganisms, which might also have benefited the plant growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Irrigation method
  • Maize (Zea mays)
  • Partial root-zone drying/irrigation
  • Plant growth
  • Soil microorganism
  • Soil water deficit


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of alternate partial root-zone irrigation on soil microorganism and maize growth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this