Alternate drip irrigation (ADI) is a useful irrigation method for water conservation and the regulation of soil quality; however, knowledge about the underlying mechanism of soil-root-bacterium interactions is limited.
To determine the mechanism by which ADI transforms soil nutrients and thereby promotes plant growth and to provide a basis for the reasonable selection of drip irrigation methodology, a new study investigated the effects of ADI on the composition and potential function of the bacterial community in tomato rhizosphere soils under greenhouse conditions and analyzed the soil-root-bacterium interactions under ADI.
The results revealed that, compared with the soils of the plots treated with surface drip irrigation with plastic film mulching (DI-PFM), the soils of the plots treated with ADI presented an optimized bacterial community structure and optimized soil nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) metabolism. The soil available N contents under ADI with lower irrigation limits of 50%, 60%, and 70% of field capacity (A50, A60, and A70 treatments, respectively) were 1.48, 2.19, and 1.91 times greater than those under DI-PFM, respectively; similarly, the soil available P contents were 1.49, 1.65, and 2.91 times greater; the total phosphorus (TP) contents in the tomato roots were 1.06, 1.94, and 1.59 times greater, respectively; and the TP contents in the tomato plants were 1.03, 1.75, and 2.84 times greater, respectively.
In addition, the total nitrogen (TN) contents in the tomato roots under ADI with lower irrigation limits of 60% and 70% of field capacity were 1.07 and 1.14 times greater than those under DI-PFM, and the TN contents in the tomato stems were 1.21 and 1.12 times greater than those under DI-PFM. However, compared with DI-PFM, ADI improved tomato yields by 24.23% under only 70% of field capacity. Therefore, ADI significantly enhanced soil-root interactions and stimulated the activation of soil N and P, but only a proper low soil moisture content (SMC) led to significantly increased tomato yields.