Aerated subsurface drip irrigation improving soil aeration and tomato growth

ZANG Ming1 LEI Hongjun1 PAN Hongwei1 LIU Huan1 XU Jianxin

(1.School of Water Conservancy, North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power, Collaborative Innovation Center of Water Resources Efficient Utilization and Protection Engineering in Henan Province, Zhengzhou, China 450046)

【Abstract】The effects of aerated subsurface drip irrigation (ASDI) on yield potential and quality of crop, and the relationships of soil aeration with crop yield and fruit quality are poorly known. In order to reveal the relationship between crop growth and soil aeration under ASDI, a pot experiment was conducted using tomato in the Efficiency Agriculture Water Experimental Farm of North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power (34°47′5.91″N, 113°47′20.15″E). Herein, two levels of irrigation amount (W1 and W2 as 0.6 and 1.0 times of the crop-pan coefficient, respectively) and two aeration treatments (A and C as ASDI and control treatment, i.e., non-aeration treatment by subsurface drip irrigation) were set up. During the trial, the air-filled porosity, soil dissolved oxygen (DO), oxidation–reduction potential (Eh), oxygen diffusion rate (ODR), soil respiration, photosynthesis indexes, crop aboveground biomass, root biomass, nutrient uptake, yield, and fruit quality were monitored systematically. The correlation analysis was conducted among soil aeration indexes, photosynthesis indexes, nutrient uptake efficiency, yield, and fruit quality. The results showed that the ASDI improved the soil aeration. Compared with those of control group, the DO in W2A and W1A treatments increased by 25.71% and 10.64% on the next day after irrigation at flowering and fruit bearing stage (P < 0.05). In W2A and W1A, similarly, the ODRs increased by 52.90% and 32.27% and the Ehs increased by 41.99% and 20.99%, respectively (P < 0.05). Compared with that of the control group, the soil respiration in W2A and W1A significantly increased by 64.70% and 28.45% at the flowering and fruit bearing stage, 14.17% and 33.24% at the fruit expanding stage, and 56.91% and 32.86% at the maturity stage (P < 0.05). Meanwhile, there were obvious positive correlations among ODR, Eh, DO, and air-filled porosity (P < 0.01). The ASDI had a positive effect on the crop photosynthesis, benefiting the increment in biomass, nutrient uptake, and crop quality. Compared with those of the control group, the net photosynthetic rates in W2A treatment at flowering and fruit bearing stage, fruit expanding stage, and maturity stage increased by 14.51%, 21.72%, and 13.76%, respectively (P < 0.05). The net photosynthetic rate in W1A treatment at fruit expanding stage increased by 55.26% (P < 0.05). The aboveground fresh weight and root fresh weight significantly increased by 68.14% and 55.18% in W2A treatment, and by 9.88% and 45.37% in W1A treatment (P < 0.05). Compared with those of the control treatment, the nitrogen uptake in root, stem, and leaf increased by 52.94%, 42.03%, and 24.12%; the phosphorus utilization in root and stem increased by 74.07% and 36.00%; and the potassium accumulation in root, stem, and leaf increased by 56.52%, 41.09%, and 22.44% in W2A treatment (P < 0.05), respectively. Similarly, the crop yield, fruit soluble solids, vitamin C content, total acid content, and soluble protein in W2A increased by 66.40%, 51.77%, 20.26%, 55.26%, and 63.64%, respectively (P < 0.05). The fruit soluble solids, vitamin C content and total acid content in W1A treatment increased by 43.55%, 29.68%, and 71.43%, respectively (P < 0.05). The ASDI treatment at the irrigation of 1.0 time of the crop-pan coefficient showed the most efficient promotion on soil aeration, crop growth and fruit quality. There were significantly positive correlations of crop yield with DO, Eh, and respiration under ASDI (P < 0.05). In addition, there were positive correlations between crop quality (soluble solids and total acid content) and soil aeration indexes (DO, ODR, and respiration) (P < 0.05). In sum, these results would provide valuable information for the enhancement effects of ASDI on soil aeration, crop yield and fruit quality.

【Keywords】 photosynthesis; biomass; irrigation; soil aeration; crop growth; yield; fruit quality; nutrient uptake;


【Funds】 National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC-Henan Joint Fund, U1504512) Henan Provincial Science and Technology Innovation Talent Project (174100510021) Henan Provincial Collaborative Innovation Center Project for the Efficient Use and Guarantee of Water Resources (2013CICWP-HN) National Key Research and Development Program (2017YFD0201703) Doctoral Candidate Innovation Fund of North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power

Download this article

(Translated by LIU T)


    [1] Bhattarai S P, Midmore D J, Su N. Sustainable irrigation to balance supply of soil water, oxygen, nutrients and agro-chemicals [M]//Biodiversity, Biofuels, Agroforestry and Conservation Agriculture. Netherlands: Springer, 2011: 253–286.

    [2] Silberbush M, Gornat B, Goldberg D. Effect of irrigation from a point source (trickling) on oxygen flux and on root extension in the soil [J]. Plant and Soil, 1979, 52 (4): 507–514.

    [3] Meyer W S, Barrs H D, Smith R, et al. Effect of irrigation on soil oxygen status and root and shoot growth of wheat in a clay soil [J]. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 1985, 36 (2): 171–185.

    [4] Mukhtar S, Baker J K, Kanwar R S. Effect of short-term flooding and drainage on soil oxygenation [J]. Transactions of the ASAE, 1996, 39 (3): 915–920.

    [5] Bhattarai S P, Huber S, Midmore D J. Aerated subsurface irrigation water gives growth and yield benefits to zucchini, vegetable soybean and cotton in heavy clay soils [J]. Annals of Applied Biology, 2015, 144 (3): 285–298.

    [6] Lei H J, Yang H G, Feng K, et al. Impact of continuous aerating irrigation on growth, water use efficiency and nutrient uptake of pak choi growing in different soils [J]. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage, 2017, 36 (11): 13–18 (in Chinese with English abstract).

    [7] Lei H J, Feng K, Zhang Z H, et al. Growth and quality of potted strawberry under aerated drip irrigation in the three typical soils in Henan Province [J]. Journal of Drainage and Irrigation Machinery Engineering, 2017, 35 (2): 158–164 (in Chinese with English abstract).

    [8] Sojka R E, Lehrsch G A, Kostka S J, et al. Soil water measurements relevant to agronomic and environmental functions of chemically treated soil [J]. Journal of ASTM International, 2009, 6 (1): 1–19.

    [9] Zou C, Penfold C, Sands R, et al. Effects of soil air--filled porosity, soil matric potential and soil strength on primary root growth of radiata pine seedlings [J]. Plant & Soil, 2001, 236 (1): 105–115.

    [10] Shi C Y, Wang Z L, Shi S L. Effects of soil aeration on sweet potato yield and its physiological mechanism [J]. Scientia Agricultura Sinica, 2001, 34 (2): 173–178 (in Chinese with English abstract).

    [11] Zhu Y, Cai H J, Song L B, et al. Oxygation improving soil aeration around tomato root zone in greenhouse [J]. Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering (Transactions of the CSAE), 2017, 33 (21): 163–172 (in Chinese with English abstract).

    [12] Kirkham M B. Chapter 12—Oxygen diffusion rate [M]//Principles of Soil and Plant Water Relations. Burlington: Academic Press. 2014: 185–200.

    [13] Lemon E R, Erickson A E. The measurement of oxygen diffusion in the soil with a platinum microelectrode [J]. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 1952, 16 (2): 160–163.

    [14] Wolińska A, Stpniewska Z. Soil aeration variability as affected by reoxidation [J]. Pedosphere, 2013, 23 (2): 236–242.

    [15] Feng G, Wu L, Letey J. Evaluating aeration criteria by simultaneous measurement of oxygen diffusion rate and soil-water regime [J]. Soil Science, 2002, 167 (8): 495–503.

    [16] Lei H J, Zang M, Zhang Z H, et al. Impact of working pressure and surfactant concentration on air-water transmission in drip irrigation tape under cycle aeration [J]. Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering (Transactions of the CSAE), 2014, 30 (22): 63–69 (in Chinese with English abstract).

    [17] Lei H J, Liu H, Zhang Z H, et al. Impact of NaCl and biodegradable surfactant on water and oxygen transmission under aerated irrigation [J]. Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering (Transactions of the CSAE), 2017, 33 (5): 96–101 (in Chinese with English abstract).

    [18] Zhu Y, Cai H J, Song L B, et al. Impacts of oxygation on plant growth, yield and fruit quality of tomato [J]. Transactions of the Chinese Society for Agricultural Machinery, 2017, 48 (8): 199–211 (in Chinese with English abstract).

    [19] Su Z H, Wu B, Gong Y S. Determination of gas diffusion coefficient in soils with different porosities [J]. Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering (Transactions of the CSAE), 2015, 31 (15): 108–113 (in Chinese with English abstract).

    [20] Letey J, Stolzy L H. Measurement of oxygen diffusion rates with the platinum microelectrode. I. Theory and equipment [J]. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 1964, 35 (20): 545–554.

    [21] Meyer W S, Barrs H D. Roots in irrigated clay soils: Measurement techniques and responses to root zone conditions [J]. Irrigation Science, 1991, 12 (3): 125–134.

    [22] Fan A W, Liu W, Li G Z. Modeling for simultaneous transfer of heat, moisture, gas and solute in soil with plants growing [J]. Journal of Huazhong University of Science and Technology: Natural Science Edition, 2005, 33 (9): 59–61 (in Chinese with English abstract).

    [23] Bhattarai S P, Pendergast L, Midmore D J. Root aeration improves yield and water use efficiency of tomato in heavy clay and saline soils [J]. Scientia Horticulturae, 2006, 108 (3): 278–288.

    [24] Bohrerova Z, Stralkova R, Podesvova J, et al. The relationship between redox potential and nitrification under different sequences of crop rotations [J]. Soil & Tillage Research, 2004, 77 (1): 25–33.

    [25] Pett-Ridge J, Firestone M K. Redox fluctuation structures microbial communities in a wet tropical soil [J]. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2005, 71 (11): 6998–7007.

    [26] Unger I M, Motavalli P P, Muzika R M. Changes in soil chemical properties with flooding: A field laboratory approach [J]. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 2009, 131 (1): 105–110.

    [27] Lei H, Bhattarai S, Balsys R, et al. Temporal and spatial dimension of dissolved oxygen saturation with fluidic oscillator and Mazzei air injector in soil-less irrigation systems [J]. Irrigation Science, 2016, 34 (6): 1–10.

    [28] Xiao S S, Xiong Y, Duan J, et al. Responses of soil respiration to vegetation type conversion in south hilly red soil based on main components [J]. Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering (Transactions of the CSAE), 2015, 31 (14): 123–131 (in Chinese with English abstract).

    [29] Orchard V A, Cook F J. Relationship between soil respiration and soil moisture [J]. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 1983, 15 (4): 447–453.

    [30] Lei H J, Hu S G, Pan H W, et al. Advancement in research on soil aeration and oxygation [J]. Acta Pedologica Sinica, 2017, 54 (2): 297–308 (in Chinese with English abstract).

    [31] Bhattarai S P, Midmore D J, Pendergast L. Yield, water-use efficiencies and root distribution of soybean, chickpea and pumpkin under different subsurface drip irrigation depths and oxygation treatments in vertisols [J]. Irrigation Science, 2008, 26 (5): 439–450.

    [32] Li Y, Niu W Q, Wang J W, et al. Effects of artificial soil aeration volume and frequency on soil enzyme activity and microbial abundance when cultivating greenhouse tomato [J]. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 2016, 80 (5): 1208–1221.

    [33] Zhu L F, Yu S M, Jin Q Y. Effects of aerated irrigation on leaf senescence at late growth stage and grain yield of rice [J]. Rice Science, 2012, 19 (1): 44–48.

    [34] Chen X M, Dhunge J, Bhattarai S P, et al. Impact of oxygation on soil respiration, yield and water use efficiency of three crop species [J]. Journal of Plant Ecology, 2011, 4 (4): 236–248.

    [35] Sojka R E. Measurement of root porosity (volume of root air space) [J]. Environmental & Experimental Botany, 1988, 28 (4): 275–280.

    [36] Drew M C. Sensing soil oxygen [J]. Plant Cell & Environment, 2006, 13 (7): 681–693.

    [37] Pendergast L, Bhattarai S P, Midmore D J. Benefits of oxygation of subsurface drip-irrigation water for cotton in a Vertosol [J]. Crop & Pasture Science, 2013, 64 (11): 1171–1181.

    [38] Tang Y F, Wang G B, Ruan H H. A review on the sensitivity of soil respiration to temperature [J]. Journal of Nanjing Forestry University: Natural Sciences Edition, 2008, 32 (1): 124–128 (in Chinese with English abstract).

    [39] Huang Q R, Qi L, Bai X F. Effects of rhizosphere aeration on photosynthesis and ion absorption in cotton seedlings under salt stress [J]. Acta Ecologica Sinica, 2018, 38 (2): 528–536 (in Chinese with English abstract).

This Article


CN: 11-2047/S

Vol 34, No. 23, Pages 109-118

December 2018


Article Outline


  • 0 Introduction
  • 1 Materials and methods
  • 2 Results and analyses
  • 3 Discussion
  • 4 Conclusions
  • References