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Belowground interactions in a vine (Vitis vinifera L.)-tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Shreb.) intercropping system: water relations and growth

Florian Celette, Jacques Wery, Eric Chantelot, Julia Celette and Christian Gary
Plant and Soil
Vol. 276, No. 1/2 (October 2005), pp. 205-217
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24124992
Page Count: 13
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Belowground interactions in a vine (Vitis vinifera L.)-tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Shreb.) intercropping system: water relations and growth
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Abstract

In the Mediterranean area, the introduction of cover crops in vineyards is hampered by the risk of severe competition for water. Belowground interactions are still not very clear in this perennial-herbaceous association. This work was aimed at characterizing the development of the root systems of associated crops and the soil water dynamics. It also investigated whether water competition could be the cause of vine vigour and yield reductions. Experiments were conducted in a 4-year-old association (vine – tall fescue) and in a weed controlled vineyard. Water transfers in the soil were estimated on the basis of the soil water potential and soil hydrodynamic properties. The vine root system was concentrated in the soil under the row, whereas the intercrop highly colonized a soil compartment under the inter-row to a depth of approximately 1 m. Despite this spatial complementarity in root distribution, intercropping reduced the amount of soil water available for the vine crop. The low soil water content reduced soil water conductivity thereby limiting water transfers, despite a significant gradient in the soil water potential. This conductivity did not differ significantly between treatments but the intercrop enhanced the infiltration of winter rainwater, probably by limiting surface runoff. There was temporal complementarity in this association since the period of intense water uptake by the intercrop occurred earlier than noted for the vine under bare soil conditions. Nevertheless, the competition for water was limited by better refilling of the soil water profile during winter in the intercropped treatment. The intercrop clearly interacted with the vine and decreased its vegetative vigor. Since predawn leaf water potential and stomatal conductance did not differ among treatments, mechanism(s) other than competition for water (e.g. nutrient competition, allelopathy) may be responsible.

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