Seedling emergence response of rare arable plants to soil tillage varies by species
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Very little information is available on emergence of rare arable plants (RAP) in relation to soil disturbance and seed burial conditions in Europe. This information is essential to design conservation and soil management strategies to prevent the decline of these species in agroecosystems. The objective of this research was to investigate the effect of soil cultivation with burial time on the emergence and seed persistence of RAP. Seeds of 30 RAP species were collected from Spanish arable fields and subjected to two tillage treatments: (a) no soil disturbance, and (b) autumnal soil disturbance down to 10 cm depth every year. The treatments simulated no-till and tilled (disking), respectively. In plots under no-till, RAP seeds were sown at 1-cm depth. In the tilled plots, seeds were sown homogeneously mixed in the top 1-10 cm of soil. The trial was established every two consecutive seasons, and each trial was maintained for two years. Annual cumulative plant emergence was calculated each year; whereas the first trial was monitored for a third year to estimate seed longevity using a persistence index. The response in emergence of the 30 RAP to annual tillage varied among species. With burial time (number of years), higher emergence was observed for seeds sown in tilled soil. This was true across all species, and with strong season effects. The persistence index was correlated with seed weight, species with bigger seeds had low persistence indices while no pattern was observed for small seeded species. Most RAP species, particularly those with high persistence, showed induction of secondary dormancy processes, highlighting the importance of tillage to promote RAP emergence, and hence, seed bank replenishment. Therefore, as time passes the absence of soil tillage may represent a driver of RAP seed bank decline for those species with secondary dormancy processes. In conclusion, it is important to design soil management strategies, such as regular tillage to promote emergence, on a species basis to preserve RAP in Europe.
Is part ofPlos One, 2018, vol. 13, núm. 6, p. 1-16
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