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The influence of soil compaction and conservation tillage on sunflower’s (Helianthus annuus L.) below ground system

Mirleau-Thebaud V1,2, J Dayde1, JD Scheiner1,3,4

INPT EI. Purpan, 75, voie du T.O.E.C, 31076 Toulouse, France.
CETIOM (Centre Technique Interprofessionnel des Oléagineux Métropolitains), Toulouse, France; Currently working in Syngenta.
Université de Toulouse ; INP, UPS; EcoLab (Laboratoire Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Environnement) ; ENSAT, Avenue de l’Agrobiopole, 31326 Castanet Tolosan, France.
CNRS ; EcoLab ; 31326 Castanet Tolosan, France.

Address correspondence to: Javier David Scheiner, e-mail: ; Virginie Mirleau-Thebaud, e-mail:

Phyton-International Journal of Experimental Botany 2017, 86(all), 53-67.


Soil compaction represents an important issue in the actual context of agricultural system sustainability. Research on the various developments of root systems under tillage has been explored for many crops, whether for the biomass area or the underground, but very little concerns Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). The objectives of the study were to understand the impact of soil tillage and of the induced mechanically compacted soil on: i) sunflower’s root system architecture, ii) biomass area iii) production. Two complementary experiments were realized in the south of France (France’s main sunflower production area). In both experiments, increased resistance of the soil to penetration was observed, characterizing soil compaction. Under compacted soil, major changes in the sunflower’s root architecture occurred (-55% of root length, -67% of root surface, and -42% of root diameter) and root system exploration was negatively impacted (assessed through the use of semivariogram). This resulted in a decrease of deep root exploration and in an increased lateral growth. Modifications of leaf surface, biomass, yield, and kernel components were also reported. Those modifications were the consequences of soil compaction, and suggest a compensatory effect under such constraint.


Cite This Article

V, M., Dayde, J., Scheiner, J. (2017). The influence of soil compaction and conservation tillage on sunflower’s (Helianthus annuus L.) below ground system. Phyton-International Journal of Experimental Botany, 86(all), 53–67.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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