Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2021-217
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2021-217

  20 Aug 2021

20 Aug 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Water uptake patterns of pea and barley responded to drought but not to cropping systems

Qing Sun1, Valentin H. Klaus1, Raphaël Wittwer2, Yujie Liu1, Marcel G. A. van der Heijden2,3, Anna K. Gilgen1, and Nina Buchmann1 Qing Sun et al.
  • 1Institute of Agricultural Sciences, ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2Department of Agroecology and Environment, Agroscope, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. Agricultural production is under threat of water scarcity due to increasingly frequent and severe drought events under climate change. Whether a change in cropping systems can be used as an effective adaptation strategy against drought is still unclear. We investigated how plant water uptake patterns of a field-grown pea-barley (Pisum sativum L. and Hordeum vulgare L.) mixture, an important fodder crop, responded to experimental drought under four cropping systems, i.e., organic intensive tillage, conventional intensive tillage, conventional no-tillage, and organic reduced tillage. Drought was simulated after crop establishment using rain shelters. Proportional contributions to plant water uptake from different soil layers were estimated based on stable water isotopes using Bayesian mixing models. Pea plants always took up proportionally more water from shallower depths than barley plants. Water uptake patterns of neither species were affected by cropping systems. Both species showed similar responses to the drought simulation and increased their proportional contributions from shallow soil layer (0–20 cm) in all cropping systems. Our results highlight the impact of drought on plant water uptake patterns for two important crop species and suggest that cropping systems might not be as successful as adaptation strategies against drought as previously thought.

Qing Sun et al.

Status: open (until 11 Oct 2021)

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Qing Sun et al.

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Short summary
Drought is one of the biggest challenges for future food production globally. During a simulated drought, pea and barley mainly relied on water from shallow soil depths, independent of different cropping systems.
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