The Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory

P&PDL Picture of the Week for
January 27, 2014

Restricted Roots Caused by Sidewall Compaction

RL (Bob) Nielsen, Purdue Agronomy

Tillage or planting of fields whose soils are “on the wet side” is likely to create shallow tillage compaction or furrow sidewall compaction that can easily restrict the initial root development of young corn plants. Symptoms of such symptoms caused by soil compaction included roots restricted to shallow soil layers or rooting patterns that resemble “pancakes” or “tomahawks” due to the impedance to root development caused by the compacted soil. Individual roots often flatten out in response to their attempts to elongate through very narrow cracks in compacted soils. Severe restriction of root development increases the vulnerability of the crop to later developing drought conditions.

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Corn restricted roots

Fan-shaped root patterns in lambsquarter and corn

Shallow roots

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service