See more from this Session: National Student Research Symposium Poster Contest
Monday, November 1, 2010
Long Beach Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Lower Level
Water is an extremely valuable and limited resource in the Western United States. This fact, coupled with an ever expanding draw on this natural resource by municipalities is spurring a change in the way that it is used. In some situations irrigated crops may be severely limited in water availability. Understanding how timing of limited irrigation affects crop development is key to maximizing water use efficiency in limited irrigation systems. We hypothesize that corn would have a more extensive rooting system under limited irrigation than under full irrigation to access more soil water. Research conducted north of Fort Collins, Colorado explored the relationship between corn root development and irrigation applications. Four irrigation treatments, full, limited, limited rotation, and dryland were replicated four different times in a field plot irrigated under a linear sprinkler. Root samples were taken in 20 cm length to 1 m at three different plant growth stages. Soil was then washed and roots analyzed using a novel printer-scanner and Adobe Photoshop method to determine surface area and perimeter. Roots were then dried to attain a dry mass weight. Root growth and density increased with increased irrigation levels. Full irrigation had deeper and more lateral root growth than drier treatments. However, drier treatments had greater specific surface area, indicating finer root development. Thus our hypothesis of greater root mass under limited irrigation was not confirmed.