Sodicity in Vertosols used for agricultural production can adversely affect the growth and nutrition of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) plants. Cotton produced in sodic soils has reduced dry matter and lint yield and can develop toxic plant tissue concentrations of sodium (Na) but limited tissue concentrations of phosphorus (P,) potassium (K), and micronutrients. Crops produced on sodic soils frequently suffer from aeration stress after an irrigation or rainfall event, and it was hypothesised that the adverse physical and/or chemical conditions of sodic soils may exacerbate the effects of waterlogging. We measured the impacts of sodicity on the growth, nutrition, and root recovery time of cotton during and after waterlogging in two experiments. In the first, cotton plants were subjected to a 7-day period of inundation in Grey Vertosols with a range of exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) values from 2 to 25%; 32P was placed in the pots and its accumulation in the plant was used to indicate root activity and recovery after the waterlogging event. In a second experiment, agar was dissolved in nutrient solutions with a range of Na concentrations (9, 30, and 52 mm) matching soil solution Na concentrations in sodic soils, in order to simulate a waterlogging event. Following the waterlogging event, the solutions were labelled with 32P, in order to determine the effect of sodic soil solution chemistry on the rate of recovery of cotton root function after the event. Plant nutrient analysis was used to determine the effects of sodicity and waterlogging on cotton nutrition. In both experiments, waterlogging reduced root activity and reduced the uptake and transport of labelled P by the cotton plants, decreased plant P and K concentrations, and increased the plant Na concentrations. Sodicity exacerbated the effects of waterlogging on root function and cotton nutrition in the soil experiment but not in the nutrient solution experiment, suggesting that any contribution of waterlogging to the patterns of nutrient accumulation in cotton crops produced in sodic fields occurs due to soil physical factors rather than soil solution chemistry.
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Vol. 64 • No. 8