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Annals of Applied Biology ISSN 0003-4746


Soil types will alter the response of arable agroecosystems

to future rainfall patterns
J. Tabi Tataw1 , R. Hall1 , E. Ziss1 , T. Schwarz1 , C. von Hohberg und Buchwald1 , H. Formayer2 , J. Hösch3 ,
A. Baumgarten3 , H. Berthold3 , K. Michel4 & J.G. Zaller1
1 Institute of Zoology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Vienna, Austria
2 Institut für Meteorology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Vienna, Austria
3 Institute for Soil Health and Plant Nutrition, Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), Vienna, Austria
4 Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Land, Vienna, Austria

Keywords Abstract
Climate change; ecosystem response;
lysimeter; mycorrhizae; rainfall pattern; soil Climate change scenarios for central Europe predict fewer but heavier rains
types. during the vegetation period without substantial changes in the total amount
of annual rainfall. To investigate the impact of rainfall patterns derived from
regionalised IPCC scenarios on agroecosystems in Austria, we conducted
J. Tabi Tataw, Institute of Zoology, University of
an experiment using 3 m2 lysimeters where prognosticated (progn.) rainfall
Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna,
A-1180 Vienna, Austria. patterns were compared with long-term current rainfall patterns on three
Email: agriculturally important soil types (sandy calcaric phaeozem, gleyic phaeozem
and calcic chernozem). Lysimeters were cultivated with field peas (Pisum
Received: 2 July 2013; revised version sativum) according to good farming practice. Prognosticated rainfall patterns
accepted: 28 August 2013. decreased crop cover, net primary production (NPP) and crop yields, but
doi:10.1111/aab.12072 increased root production and tended to decrease mycorrhization. Soil types
affected the NPP, crop density and yields, weed biomass and composition, as
well as the root production with lowest values commonly found in sandy soils,
while other soil types showed almost similar effects. Significant interactions
between rainfall patterns and soil types were observed for the harvest index
(ratio crop yield versus straw), yield per crop plant, weed density and weed
community composition. Abundance of the insect pest pea moth (Cydia
nigricana) tended to be higher under progn. rainfall, but was unaffected by
soil types. These results show that (a) future rainfall patterns will substantially
affect various agroecosystem processes and crop production in the studied
region, and (b) the influence of different soil types in altering ecosystem
responses to climate change should be considered when attempting to scale-up
experimental results derived at the plot level to the landscape level.

Introduction the annual amount of rainfall (Eitzinger, 2010). We

therefore conducted a lysimeter experiment to see how
Human-induced global warming is expected to affect
reduction in precipitation on different soil types will affect
the frequency, timing and intensity of precipitation agroecosystem parameters.
(IPCC, 2007). In Europe, this will lead to higher winter Agroecosystem parameters affected by reduction in
precipitation in northern regions with drier and hotter precipitation and associated drought from past studies
summers in central Europe (Viner et al., 2006; Eitzinger, include crop production, weed, arbuscular mycorrhizal
2010) Accordingly, the regional climate scenario for fungi (AMF) and insect abundance. It has been
eastern Austria (pannonian region), an important arable demonstrated that reduction in precipitation reduces crop
crop region, predicts fewer but heavier rains during production (Martin & Jamieson, 1996; Sanchez et al.,
the vegetation periods without substantial changes in 2001), increases weed invasibility (Kreyling et al., 2008),

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original work is properly cited.
Soil types and rainfall patterns on agroecosystems J.T. Tataw et al.

reduces the mycorrhization rates (Augé, 2001; Porcel Table 1 Characteristics of the experimental soil types in the lysimeters
et al., 2003, Smith & Read, 2008) and increases insects (from soil analysis and partly from Steinitzer & Hoesch, 2005)
and invertebrate population (Ziska & Dukes, 2011).
Sandy Calcaric Gleyic Calcic
Weeds are expected to be less reduced by droughts Phaeozem Phaeozem Chernozem
than cultivated plants owing to their wide climatic or Parameters (S-soils ) (F-soils ) (T-soils )
environment tolerance, short generation time, small seed
Profile water content (mm) 250–500 400–700 460–730
size, uniparental reproduction capacity, high competitive
Infiltration (mm) 430 25 0
ability, high growth rate and phenotypic plasticity Evaporation (mm) 2800 3150 3150
(Whitney & Gabler, 2008; Clements & Ditommaso, 2011). pH value: CaCl2 7.4 7.6 7.6
The AMF has also been shown to alleviate drought Calcium carbonate (%) 0.143 0.260 0.106
(Augé, 2001; Porcel et al., 2003), improving the crop Phosphor, CAL (mg kg−1 ) 143 73 76
yield and water use efficiency (Bolandnazar et al., 2007), Potassium, CAL (mg kg−1 ) 187 246 286
Magnesium, available 83 273 277
while making plants less vulnerable to withstand various
(mg kg−1 )
abiotic stresses (Koltai & Kapulnik, 2010). As AMF Humus content 2.1 4.9 4.9
foster plants nutrient uptake it equally increases the Nitrogen, mineralisation 56 57 68
soluble protein content improving plants quality for (mg kg−1 7 days−1 )
herbivores (Subramanian & Charest, 1998). Reduction Boron, available (mg kg−1 ) 1.3 2.7 2.9
in precipitation increases insect mortality, affecting its Iron, EDTA (mg kg−1 ) 69 44 39
Manganese, EDTA 81 34 33
abundance, morphology and physiology (Moran et al.,
(mg kg−1 )
1987; Robinson et al., 2012). Copper, EDTA (mg kg−1 ) 3.3 3.4 3.2
Reduction in precipitation was tested on the soil Zinc, EDTA (mg kg−1 ) 4.6 4.6 4.7
types calcaric phaeozem (S-soils ), gleyic phaeozem (F-soils ) Sand (%) 67.9 21.5 22
and calcic chernozem (T-soils ), representing 80% of the Silt (%) 19 50 67 55
agricultural soil in Austria’s most fertile region (region Clay (%) 9.9 27.83 23
Cation exchange capacity, 11.29 25.13 26.00
of Marchfeld). S-soils are highly sandy, with very low
profile water and evaporation; F-soils have very high
clay content, highly mottled subsoils, with high profile CAL, calcium acetate-lactate method; EDTA, Ethylenediaminetetraacetic -
water and evaporation; while T-soils are highly silty acid.
with the highest profile water content (Table 1). Soil
types and its characteristics have been demonstrated to much lower groundcover and root biomasses, which are
affect several processes in agroecosystems, such as the indicators for soil water und nutrient availability. In this
availability and supply of water to plants (Passioura, study, we tested the effects of current long-term average
1991), respiration and soil temperature (Koizumi et al., rainfall patterns versus future prognosticated rainfall
1999), plant growth, vegetation cover and yield (Mako patterns based on regionalised global climate change
et al., 2008; Bestland et al., 2009; Genxu et al., 2009), the models simultaneously on three different soil types in
transfer and interaction of mineral nutrients (Echevarria a large-scale lysimeter facility.
et al., 2003; Matias et al., 2011), and the physical, chemical
and biochemical properties of soils (Rhoton et al., 1993;
Paz-Ferreiro et al., 2011), while higher soil sand content Materials and methods
has been shown to improve AMF colonisation (Zaller
Experimental site
et al., 2011).
Both the effect of precipitation and soil types on This experiment was carried out in 2011 using 18
agroecosystem processes have been studied in isolation; cylindrical steel (Cr/Ni 18/9) lysimeters each with
however, it is unclear how these important factors a surface area of 3.02 m2 and 2.45 m soil depth.
interact. On the basis of previous findings we hypothesize Lysimeters were located in Vienna, Austria and situated
that soil types with lower water holding capacities under a 10 m × 46 m tunnel covered with transparent
and/or nutrient availability like S-soils will interact polyethylene film (Fig. 1). Tunnels were open at the
with lower precipitation disrupting nutrient and water front and back and had 2-m-high openings at both length
transportation into and within the plants, slowing sides to allow proper ventilation.
down plant’s physiological activities like photosynthesis, The soil types (S-soils , F-soils and T-soils ) were filled each
subsequently reducing plants biomass, crop yields and into six lysimeters. These soil profiles were carefully
weeds abundance more than F-soils and T-soils with higher excavated from field sites and filled into the lysimeters
soil water content. Thus, S-soils are expected to have with their natural bulk density of 1.4 g cm−3 . Each soil

2 Ann Appl Biol (2013)

© 2013 The Authors. Annals of Applied Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association of Applied Biologists.
J.T. Tataw et al. Soil types and rainfall patterns on agroecosystems

A 1/3 reduced precipitation in longer duration (Fig. 2). At

the bottom of each lysimeter containers collected the
leachate, of which the chemical data are presented in
Table 2.
Lysimeters were sown with field peas (Pisum sativum
cf. Jetset) on 23 March 2011. All lysimeters received
49 mm of natural rainfall before the simulation treatments
started. Until the harvest of the crops on 3 July 2011,
curr. treatments received 131 mm and progn. treatments
93 mm rainfall. As our aim was to mimic the real-
world situation for farmers, we analysed soil P and K
nutrient concentrations in all lysimeters and fertilised
the lysimeters according to official recommendations.
Therefore, all F-soils and T-soils received 65 kg ha−1 P2 O5
B and all S-soils 100 kg ha−1 K2 O, all F-soils and T-soils
50 kg ha−1 K2 O. No N fertiliser was applied as lysimeters
were planted with the nitrogen-fixing legume alfalfa
(Medicago sativa L.) in the year prior to this experiment.
No chemical weed control was applied during the course
of the experiment.


The groundcover was measured from images taken with

a digital camera on a tripod located 1.6 m above a marked
area (1.2 m × 1.2 m) per lysimeter. We took images every
week between days 13 and 70 after sowing and calculated
percent ground cover using the freely available software
ImageJ ( The leaf area index
Figure 1 Above ground (A) and below ground (B) view of the lysimeter (LAI) was measured using a ceptometer (SunScan type
station where this study was conducted. SS1, DELTA-T Device, Cambridge, UK), inserted eight
times horizontally (2 cm above the soil surface) from
type was analysed in the laboratory and their different outside to the centre in sections of 45°; LAI was calculated
characteristics are reported in Table 1. by averaging the eight readings per lysimeter.
Half of the lysimeters were subjected to the current Root production was measured by using five randomly
rainfall pattern (treatment ‘curr.’) and the other half to located ingrowth cores per lysimeter (diameter 5 cm and
the prognosticated rainfall pattern (treatment ‘progn.’). depth 20 cm). First, roots present in the soil cores were
The current rainfall pattern was calculated by averaging sorted out and the rootless soils refilled back into the
the amount and frequency of precipitation between the bored holes. Then, 49 days later the same positions were
years 1971 and 2000 from a weather station located 10 km resampled and all roots growing into these cores were
from the experimental site. The prognosticated rainfall washed out in a sieve (mesh size 0.5 mm) under a jet
pattern was based on the regionalisation of the IPCC, of tap water. Root-free soil was refilled and ingrowth
2007 climate change scenario for the period 2071–2100, cores were resampled after another 30 days and processed
gotten from local climatology and climate change signal as described above. Of these roots one half was used
from the ensemble mean of the regional climate model to determine dry mass after oven drying at 50°C for
scenarios from the EC-project ENSEMBLES (Christensen 48 h. The other half of the root mass was stored in
& Christensen, 2007). The weather generator LARS-WG 50% ethanol and their colonisation with vesicular-AMF
version 3.0 (Semenov & Barrow, 2002) was used to was measured after ink staining (Vierheilig et al., 1998)
transfer the derived local climate change signals to daily using a modified gridline intersection method under the
precipitation rates. Rainfall amounts were applied early in dissecting microscope by counting at least 100 sections
the morning by a hand sprinkler with an attached gauge (Giovannetti & Mosse, 1980).
using tap water. Rainfall treatment started 63 days after Weed infestation was measured on permanently
seeding whereby the prognosticated treatment received marked 50 cm × 50 cm plot per lysimeter. Weeds growing

Ann Appl Biol (2013) 3

© 2013 The Authors. Annals of Applied Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association of Applied Biologists.
Soil types and rainfall patterns on agroecosystems J.T. Tataw et al.

50 Curr. rainfall

45 Progn. rainfall
Rainfall in mm

23 May
25 May
27 May
29 May
31 May
02 June
04 June
06 June
08 June
10 June
12 June
14 June
16 June
18 June
20 June
22 June
24 June
26 June
28 June
30 June
02 July

Figure 2 Current and prognosticated rainfall amounts applied onto field pea stands during the vegetative period from May to July 2011.

within this area were successively removed, identified to test and Kolmogorov–Smirnov, respectively. Parameters
plant family level, counted and their mass weighed after that did not meet criteria for parametric tests were
drying at 50°C for 48 h; weeds growing on the remaining transformed using Boxcox transformations. Afterwards,
lysimeter area were pulled by hand and weighed. Total all parameters (total biomass, pea, straw, weed, harvest
weed biomass of each lysimeter was calculated by adding index, plant density, root production, mycorrhization,
the biomass of the permanent and the remaining plot root–shoot ratio, weed families and number of pea
area. moth) were analysed using a two factorial analysis of
Field pea plants and weeds were harvested by hand variance (ANOVA) with precipitation (two levels: curr.
cutting them 5 cm above the soil surface. Pea yield rainfall versus progn. rainfall) and soil types (three levels:
was obtained by threshing the sheets in the laboratory. F-soils , S-soils and T-soils ) as factors. We also performed
Field peas and straw were ground and N content was correlations between LAI and biomass (Spearman’s rank
determined using an elemental analyser (LECO TruMac, correlation coefficient) and pea yield and root production
St. Joseph, MI, USA). Crop P, K and Mg contents (Pearson’s correlation coefficient). All statistical analyses
were determined by inductively coupled plasma atomic were performed using the freely available software R
emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES, Thermo Scientific, iCAP (Free Software Foundation, Inc., Boston, MA, USA;
6000 series, Waltham, MA, USA).
No insecticide was used and insect pest population was
determined by direct sampling. At harvest abundance of
the Pea moth Cydia nigricana Fabricius (Lepidoptera: Tortri- Results
cidae) was counted in pea sheets on 10 randomly chosen Future rainfall pattern reduced the net primary produc-
crop individuals per lysimeter. Pea moth abundance per tion (NPP), weed abundance, pea biomass and yield more
m2 was calculated by multiplying the abundance plant−1 on S-soils than on T-soils and F-soils . The NPP, harvest index,
with crop density. pea biomass plant−1 , pea yield plant−1 , root produc-
tion and root-to-shoot ratio were significantly affected
by both rainfall and soil types (Table 3). The NPP under
Statistical analyses
progn. rainfall was 29% lower than under curr. rainfall
First, we tested the normal distribution and variance patterns. The NPP of S-soils was 36% lower compared
homogeneity of each parameter using the Shapiro with F-soils and 43% lower than T-soils , but insignificant

4 Ann Appl Biol (2013)

© 2013 The Authors. Annals of Applied Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association of Applied Biologists.
J.T. Tataw et al. Soil types and rainfall patterns on agroecosystems

Table 2 Chemistry of the flow through water (leachate) on S-soils (except sample 25 on T-soil )

Soil Permeability Phosphorus NH4 NO3

Samples Rainfall Type (μS cm−1 ) (mg L−1 ) (mg L−1 ) (mg L−1 )

1 Curr. S 560 0.12 0.20 17

2 Curr. S 620 0.07 0.00 26
3 Curr. S 600 0.05 0.23 21
4 Curr. S 490 0.06 0.14 14
5 Curr. S 510 0.07 0.31 16
6 Curr. S 570 0.07 0.00 22
7 Curr. S 480 0.05 0.00 13
8 Curr. S 500 0.06 0.00 15
9 Curr. S 600 0.05 0.00 26
10 Curr. S 430 0.02 0.14 12
11 Curr. S 450 0.01 0.39 16
12 Curr. S 570 0.02 0.32 29
13 Progn. S 620 0.06 0.49 23
14 Progn. S 620 0.04 0.00 23
15 Progn. S 820 0.08 0.04 49
16 Progn. S 690 0.06 0.06 35
17 Progn. S 630 0.05 0.01 27
18 Progn. S 750 0.10 0.00 47
19 Progn. S 670 0.05 0.00 35
20 Progn. S 590 0.05 0.09 24
21 Progn. S 810 0.07 0.00 53
22 Progn. S 600 0.02 0.24 33
23 Progn. S 520 0.02 0.07 23
24 Progn. S 840 0.05 0.45 59
25 Progn. T 2500 0.06 0.00 25

Curr., current; Progn., prognosticated.

between F-soils and T-soils biomass (Fig. 3A). Groundcover Root growth was significantly different among the various
was significantly reduced under progn. rainfall, however soil types. Between all soil types the root-to-shoot ratio
unaffected by soil types; LAI was marginally significantly differentiated significantly (data not shown).
affected by rainfall and soil type (Table 3). The harvest index was 9% lower under progn. rainfall
Pea biomass, yield and weed biomass were significantly patterns than under current rainfall patterns. S-soils had
affected by soil types, but not by rainfall patterns (Table 3). the lowest harvest index and differentiated from the
Harvest index, pea yield per plant and weed density T-soils and F-soils by 39% and 42%, respectively, whereas
showed significant interactions between soil types and T-soils had 6% lower harvest index than F-soils (Fig. 4).
rainfall (Table 3). The pea and straw biomass production Root mycorrhizal colonisation rate was on average 22%;
in S-soils was 37% lower than F-soils and 35% lower than however, it was not affected by soil types; progn. rainfall
T-soils (Fig. 3B). The pea yield per m2 was significantly showed a trend towards lower mycorrhization rates
affected by soil type and marginally significantly affected compared with curr. rainfall (Table 3; Fig. 5).
by rainfall; S-soils produced the lowest pea yield being 63% Weed production was significantly affected by soil
lower compared with F-soils and 59% lower than T-soils ; types, with a trend towards decreasing weed production
F-soils and T- soils had similar yields (Table 3, Fig. 3C). under progn. rainfall (Table 3). S-soils had 50% less
Root production before implementing rainfall treatments weed biomass than T-soils and 34% less weed biomass
was significantly different between soil types (Table 3): than F-soils . Weed density was unaffected by rainfall
S-soils showed higher root production than F-soils and T-soils , or soil types (Fig. 6A). Weed communities consisted
whereas the root production between T-soils and F-soils was of the families Asteraceae, Chenopodiace, Polygonaceae and
similar (data not shown). One month after implementing Poaceae. The relative contribution of these families to
the rainfall treatments, root production was significantly the weed community was unaffected by rainfall or
affected by rainfall and soil types (Table 3; Fig. 3D). Across soil types (Fig. 6B), although there were considerable
all soil types the root growth under progn. rainfall was changes in the contribution of these families to the weed
on average 53% higher than under curr. rainfall patterns. communities.

Ann Appl Biol (2013) 5

© 2013 The Authors. Annals of Applied Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association of Applied Biologists.
Soil types and rainfall patterns on agroecosystems J.T. Tataw et al.

Table 3 Analysis of variance results on effects of three different soil types (gleyic phaeozem – F-soils , sandy calcaric phaeozem – S-soils and calcic
chernozem – T-soils ) and rainfall patterns (curr. rainfall versus progn. rainfall) on agroecosystem variables in field peas

Soil Type Rainfall Soil Type × Rainfall

Variable F P F P F P

Ground cover (70 DAS, %) 1.359 0.294 16.474 0.002 0.556 0.588
LAI (90 DAS) 3.391 0.068 3.286 0.095 0.930 0.421
Net primary production (g m−2 ) 28.676 < 0.001 13.3 0.003 0.937 0.419
Pea + straw (g m−2 ) 4.492 0.035 2.951 0.111 0.754 0.491
Pea (g m−2 ) 12.486 0.001 3.979 0.069 0.081 0.922
Weed (g m−2 ) 9.602 0.003 2.692 0.127 0.228 0.800
Harvest index 119.093 < 0.001 5.837 0.033 12.285 0.001
Plant density (ind. m−2 ) 8.574 0.005
Biomass per plant (g) 31.522 < 0.001 11.093 0.006 1.616 0.239
Pea per plant (g) 71.842 < 0.001 17.567 0.001 4.459 0.036
Root production, pretreatment (g m−2 ) 16.590 < 0.001
Root production, treatment (g m−2 ) 11.769 0.001 8.438 0.013 0.449 0.648
Mycorrhization, pretreatment (%) 1.583 0.238
Mycorrhization treatment (%) 0.121 0.887 3.736 0.077 0.193 0.827
Root/shoot ratio 23.508 < 0.001 20.427 0.001 1.265 0.317
Weed density (ind. m−2 ) 0.863 0.447 0.000 0.987 3.775 0.053
Pea moth infestation (ind. m−2 ) 0.079 0.925 1.736 0.212 0.077 0.926

DAS, days after seeding; LAI, leaf area index.

Across soil types, the abundance of pea moth (C. future rainfall patterns with a reduced ground cover and
nigricana) was on average 105% higher under progn. aboveground production but increased root production.
rainfall than under curr. rainfall; however, this was not The allocation of production into roots is probably a
statistically significant; soil types had no influence on C. stress reaction counteracting the induced drought by
nigricana (Fig. 7). increasing the root surface area of water absorption
Leaf area index significantly correlated with pea likewise extending deeper to meet the underground
biomass (r = 0.724, P = 0.024). There was no correlation available water (Masilionyte & Maiksteniene, 2011).
between mycorrhization rate and the pea yield, root We attribute the reduction of NPP under progn. rainfall
production or NPP (data not shown). patterns to differences in the soil profile water content,
Analysing the soil NH4 and NO3 contents from 0.1 M infiltration and evaporation rates (Steinitzer & Hoesch,
KCl soil extract showed strong increase in average 2005). In a lysimeter experiment with seven different
NO3 content from 0.416 to 2.225 μg g−1 on S-soil under crops including field pea, it was shown that the straw yield
prognosticated climate (Table 4). By the end of the responded positively to moisture with a 21% increase for
experiment no leachate was collected on F-soils and barely pea straw biomass under irrigation (Gan et al., 2009). The
one sample on T-soils , whereas on S-soils the leachate positive correlation between NPP and the LAI showed a
average NO3 content was almost twice as much with stronger effect of the climate on the vegetative growth and
progn. treatment, while NH4 and P contents were almost confirms findings that induced drought being responsible
the same for both treatments (Table 2). also for the reduction in crop cover rate (Cui & Nobel,
1992; Augé, 2001; Echevarria et al., 2003; Porcel et al.,
Discussion 2003; Matias et al., 2011). Decrease in harvest index
under progn. rainfall was in contradiction to the findings
Effects of rainfall patterns
of Martin & Jamieson (1996) associating increase in field
Simulated future rainfall patterns with 30% decreased pea harvest index to sensitivity in reproductive growth,
rainfall amount during the vegetation period and but is in conformity with the findings of others attributing
36% longer dry periods between rainfall events than it to photosynthetic changes (Sanchez et al., 2001).
the current long-term rainfall patterns affected several The observed increased root growth on all soil types
important processes within this agroecosystem. It was under progn. rainfall indicates that soil conditions in the
very interesting to observe most changes just about three soil types were still suitable for root extension
4 weeks after implementing treatments, which differ (Passioura, 1991; Feiziene et al., 2011). Overall root
by only 38 mm rainfall. Field pea stands responded to AMF colonisation was low, suggesting that AMF is not

6 Ann Appl Biol (2013)

© 2013 The Authors. Annals of Applied Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association of Applied Biologists.
J.T. Tataw et al. Soil types and rainfall patterns on agroecosystems

A 700 B 400

600 350
Net Primary production (g/m2)

Biomass Pea + Straw (g/m2)

100 50

0 0
Curr. rainfall Progn. rainfall Curr. rainfall Progn. rainfall

C 200 D 50
180 45
Root production (g d.wt./m2)

160 40
140 35
Pea yield (g/m2)

120 30
100 25
80 20
60 15
40 10
20 5
0 0

Curr. rainfall Progn. rainfall Curr. rainfall Progn. rainfall

Figure 3 Net primary production (A), biomass of field pea + straw (B), pea yield (C) and root production (D) in field peas at different soil types (gleyic
phaeozem – F-soils , sandy calcaric phaeozem – S-soils and calcic chernozem – T-soils ), under current and prognosticated rainfall patterns. Means ± SD,
n = 3.

very important in this leguminous crop. Nevertheless, a C. nigricana were collected under progn. rainfall than
trend towards reduced AMF colonisation under progn. under curr. rainfall. Although this difference was not
rainfall could be attributed to the fact that water statistically significant owing to high variation between
stress causes plants to be more metabolically perturbed. lysimeters, this indicates that pest species living in sheets
According to Augé (2001), the fungus strongly competes benefitted from future rainfall patterns. It has long been
for root allocates with the onset of stress, leading to known that pea moth is more abundant on pea varieties
reduced mycorrhization rates in response to resist drought with later flowering dates and longer flowering duration
stress (Stahl & Christensen, 1982; Cui & Nobel, 1992; (Nolte & Adam, 1962) and it could also be shown that
Subramanian & Charest, 1998; Augé, 2001; Bolandnazar the abundance of this pest species also correlates with the
et al., 2007). The reduced AMF trend observed on all soil pea cropping area in the surroundings (Thoeming et al.,
types with reduced progn. rainfall could be attributed 2011) as known for other crops (Zaller et al., 2008).
to reduced soil water content (Stahl & Christensen,
1982), contradicting the findings of Cui & Nobel (1992)
Effects of soil types
who associated higher colonisation with improved water
availability. The three soil types differed mainly in sand, silt, clay and
Overall, there were very few insect pests on the crops in humus contents, soil water capacity and cation exchange
the experimental year. Nevertheless, considerably more capacities. Overall, crops and weeds in sandy soils

Ann Appl Biol (2013) 7

© 2013 The Authors. Annals of Applied Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association of Applied Biologists.
Soil types and rainfall patterns on agroecosystems J.T. Tataw et al.

1 50

Root mycorrhization (%)

Harvest index

Straw 30
0.4 25
0.2 15
F S T F S T 5
Curr. rainfall Progn. rainfall F S T F S T

Curr. rainfall Progn. rainfall

Figure 4 Harvest index in field peas at different soil types Treatment
(gleyic phaeozem – F-soils , sandy calcaric phaeozem – S-soils and calcic
chernozem – T-soils ), under current and prognosticated rainfall patterns.
Figure 5 Mycorrhization of field pea roots at different soil types
Means, n = 3.
(gleyic phaeozem – F-soils , sandy calcaric phaeozem – S-soils and calcic
chernozem – T-soils ), under current and prognosticated rainfall patterns.
Means ± SD, n = 3.
were most sensitive to rainfall manipulations. A general
decrease in crop production, mycorrhization and insect
pests on soil types with progn. rainfall was observed, Feiziene et al., 2011; Matias et al., 2011), but differ from
while the response of weeds varied among soil types. the finding of Kreyling et al. (2008) that changes in the
Weed biomass production was unaffected by rainfall physical environment had the same effect on vegetation
patterns, confirming the findings of Gan et al. (2009). type and diversity level.
Weed abundance decreased in S-soils and T-soils under In this experiment, S-soils had the lowest soil moisture
progn. rainfall but was unaffected on F-soils , indicating and highest sand content, but here the smallest AMF
that soil types with higher sand and silt content are reduction was observed, implying that soil moisture alone
more prone to reduced rainfall than those with higher cannot be the reason for the reduced AM trend. This is
clay content. On plots with progn. rainfall weed density somewhat unexpected as a higher sand content has been
increased on F-soils , decreased on S-soils , while T-soils were shown to increase root colonisation with AMF (Zaller
almost unaffected. This could be attributed to the soil et al., 2011).
properties, the types of weed species and a better water Weed production was significantly different between
use efficiency of individual weed families (Bolandnazar soil types although the contribution of different weed
et al., 2007). Soil types influencing the abundance of families to the weed community was not different. There
plant communities are in conformity with most earlier was a trend towards more abundance of Asteraceae,
research (Koizumi et al., 1999; Echevarria et al., 2003; Chenopodiace and Polygonaceae under progn. rainfall on
Mako et al., 2008; Bestland et al., 2009; Clark et al., 2011; F-soils and T-soils ; however, on S-soils they were all reduced.

1400 Rest 100%
Proportion of weed families

1200 Polygonaceae 80%

Individuals per m2

1000 Chenopodiaceae
800 60%

600 40%
0 0%

Curr. rainfall Progn. rainfall Curr. rainfall Progn. rainfall

Figure 6 Absolute (A) and relative (B) abundance of weed families per m2 in field peas at different soil types (gleyic phaeozem – F-soils , sandy calcaric
phaeozem – S-soils and calcic chernozem – T-soils ), under current and prognosticated rainfall patterns. Means, n = 3.

8 Ann Appl Biol (2013)

© 2013 The Authors. Annals of Applied Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association of Applied Biologists.
J.T. Tataw et al. Soil types and rainfall patterns on agroecosystems

70 experimental results derived at the plot level to the

Pea moth abundance per m2

60 landscape level. These results also indicate that crops such

50 as field peas where irrigation as an adaptation to climate
change is economically not feasible may be especially
prone to future rainfall patterns.
0 We are grateful to Lina Weissengruber and Nadja Santer
for their help in the field, to Wolfgang Holzner and
Curr. rainfall Progn. rainfall Gerhard Karrer for their advice on weeds and to Wolfgang
Treatment Wanek for lending us the ceptometer. This research was
funded by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund as part
Figure 7 The abundance of pea month per m2 in field peas at different of the call ‘ACRP’.
soil types (gleyic phaeozem – F-soils , sandy calcaric phaeozem – S-soils
and calcic chernozem – T-soils ), under current and prognosticated rainfall
patterns. Means, n = 3.
Augé R.M. (2001) Water relations, drought and vesicular-
arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis. Mycorrhiza, 11, 3–42.
Table 4 The average and standard deviation (SD) values of NH4 and
NO3 content in the soil types (gleyic phaeozem – F-soils , sandy calcaric
Bestland E., Milgate S., Chittleborough D., Van Leeuwen
phaeozem – S-soils and calcic chernozem – T-soils ), under current and J., Pichler M., Soloninka L. (2009) The significance and
prognosticated rainfall patterns; means ± SD, n = 3 lag-time of deep through flow: an example from a small,
ephemeral catchment with contrasting soil types in the
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Rainfall Type (μg g−1 ) (μg g−1 ) (μg g−1 ) (μg g−1 ) Sciences, 13, 1201–1214.
C F 1.597 0.147 2.314 2.543 Bolandnazar S., Aliasgarzad N., Neishabury M.R., Cha-
S 1.444 0.114 0.416 0.271 parzadeh N. (2007) Mycorrhizal colonization improves
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