Plant and Soil

, Volume 281, Issue 1–2, pp 121–135 | Cite as

Effects of Soil Structure on Pea (Pisum sativum L.) Root Development According to Sowing Date and Cultivar

  • Aurélie Vocanson
  • Jean Roger-Estrade
  • Hubert Boizard
  • Marie-Hélène Jeuffroy


Spring peas are known to be very sensitive to compaction, particularly when sowing takes place soon after winter. Winter peas, which are sown in autumn, should present an opportunity to sow the crop in better soil structural conditions than for spring peas, because of more favourable moisture conditions at that time. As environmental conditions have a big influence on root systems, it is important to determine the effects of soil structure on pea root systems for different cultivars and sowing dates. A spring pea cultivar and a winter pea cultivar were both sown at two dates (one in autumn and one in spring) on soils with different plough-layer structures (compacted and uncompacted) at two sites in 2002 and one site in 2003. Soil structure was characterised by bulk density and the percentage of highly compacted zones in the ploughed layer. Root distribution maps were produced every month, from February to maturity. Root development was described in terms of general root dynamics, root elongation rate (RER) in the subsoil, final maximum root depth (Dmax) and root distribution at maturity. Root depth dynamics depended on compaction and its interaction with climatic conditions. The effects of compaction on RER in the subsoil depended on the experimental conditions. Dmax was reduced by 0.10 m by compaction. Compaction also reduced root distribution between 10 and 40% in the ploughed layer only. Pea cultivars differed in sensitivity to soil compaction, with a direct effect on the final depth explored by roots. These results are discussed in terms of their relevance to water and nutrient uptake.


compaction maximum root depth root distribution root elongation rate 



final maximum root depth


root elongation rate


percentage of squares with at least one protruding root


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aurélie Vocanson
    • 1
  • Jean Roger-Estrade
    • 1
  • Hubert Boizard
    • 2
  • Marie-Hélène Jeuffroy
    • 1
  1. 1.INRA-INA P-G, Unité Mixte de Recherche d’AgronomieThiverval-GrignonFrance
  2. 2.INRA, Unité d’Agronomie de Laon-Reims-MonsPéronne cedexFrance

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