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Case Study: Plant Responses to Water Logging

Plant responses to water logging.
Tractor ploughing a field
© QUB

Water logging causes oxygen restrictive conditions which dramatically affect plant growth, development and survival. Plants which have endured these conditions have adapted important survival traits.

In European countries, most crop species have a degree of resistance to water logging as this is a characteristic of their habitat. Studies have revealed many plants which have been subjected to root anoxia have responded by inducing aerenchymae (i.e. a spongy tissue connecting shoots to allow the exchange of gases and reduce the loss of oxygen from roots through radial oxygen loss).

These adaptive mechanisms are important traits to consider for breeding or selecting water logging resistant crops. Other key traits include:

  • Roots able to withstand high levels of toxic ions (primarily species of Aluminium, Iron and Magnesium mobilised under reduced soil conditions

  • The ability to recover from anaerobic respiration and its toxic metabolites.

Field Management

Field management is the strategies used to counteract the negative impacts of water logging on horticulture. A number of management strategies have been suggested, including:

  • Time of planting to avoid periods of probable water logging

  • Farming practices such as the use of raised beds; ridging and furrowing; and draining

  • The use of N fertiliser to counteract the reduction and availability of nitrate as a result of flooding

  • Hormonal sprays to reduce the impacts of anerobism on plant physiology

  • Breeding or selecting water logging tolerant culivars.

Crop quality may affect value and sustainability. Thus, it is a priority that impact of climate change conditions on relevant parameters are understood and managed.

What we would like you to do

Please conduct your own ‘internet scavenger hunt’ to find out more about the potential effects climate change will have on soil health.

Summarise and share your findings with your fellow learners in the comments section below.

© QUB
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