Effect of tillage practices on least limiting water range in Northwest India
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Tillage practices affect mechanical and hydrological characteristics of soil and subsequently the least limiting water range. This quality indicator under the wheat-maize system of northwest India has not been studied yet. The treatments included four tillage modes, namely conventional tillage, no-tillage without residue, no-tillage with residue, and deep tillage as well as three irrigation regimes based on the irrigation water and pan evaporation ratio i.e. 1.2, 0.9, and 0.6. The experiment was conducted in a split plot design with three replications. At the end of cropping system, the mean least limiting water range (m3 m-3) was found to be highest in deep tillage (0.26) and lowest in no- tillage without residue (0.15). The field capacity was a limiting factor for the upper range of the least limiting water range beyond soil bulk density 1.41 Mg m-3 and after that 10% air filled porosity played a major role. However, for the lower range, the permanent wilting point was a critical factor beyond soil bulk density 1.50 Mg m-3 and thereafter, the penetration resistance at 2 MPa becomes a limiting factor. Thus, deep tillage under compaction and no-tillage with residue under water stress is appropriate practice for achieving maximum crop and water productivity.