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Abstract

Agricultural mechanization and open livestock grazing contribute to soil compaction and consequently on crop productivity. This study used a greenhouse experiment to identify the effects of soil compaction on the growth, productivity and nutrient uptake of maize plant seedlings grown at three bulk density (1.17, 1.37, and 1.45 g cm-3 ) and three water contents (0.12, 0.18, and 0.30 g/g soil). Shoot elongation and leaf area decreased significantly by 27.1 and 67.8% respectively at high compaction (P<0.05). Fresh and dry root mass also decreased significantly at high compaction by 39.1 and 37.8% respectively. Increase in soil compaction also reduced the grain yield by 18.8%. The adverse soil conditions created by increasing soil compaction accounted for the reduction in nutrient uptake. Increase in penetration resistance of the soil reduced the plants ability to absorb nitrogen (13.5%), potassium (51.4%), magnesium (50.4%) and sodium (51.5%) whereas the concentration of calcium and phosphorous were higher when soil resistance varied between 3 and 4 MPa. The relationship between root production, shoot elongation, root biomass and soil strength shows that increase in soil strength/compaction was detrimental to maize production. High soil compaction negatively influenced plant ability to absorb minerals from the soil thus decreased the yield performance.

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