Plant and Soil

, Volume 139, Issue 1, pp 119–129

Root-soil contact of maize, as measured by a thin-section technique

II. Effects of soil compaction


  • M. J. Kooistra
    • DLO-Winand Staring Centre for Integrated Land, Soil and Water Research
  • D. Schoonderbeek
    • DLO-Winand Staring Centre for Integrated Land, Soil and Water Research
  • F. R. Boone
    • Soil Tillage LaboratoryWageningen Agricultural University
  • B. W. Veen
    • DLO-Centre for Agrobiological Research
  • M. Van Noordwijk
    • DLO-Institute for Soil Fertility Research

DOI: 10.1007/BF00012849

Cite this article as:
Kooistra, M.J., Schoonderbeek, D., Boone, F.R. et al. Plant Soil (1992) 139: 119. doi:10.1007/BF00012849


The degree of root-soil contact was evaluated from thin sections for maize grown in pots with soil aggregates packed at three bulk densities. Root-soil contact was found to increase with bulk density of the soil. For soils with a porosity of 60, 51 and 44% (v/v), the average fraction of root-soil contact was 60, 72 and 87%, respectively. The frequency distribution of nearest-neighbour distances from points in a void to the nearest point of the soil matrix was measured. This was then used for a statistical test of a null hypothesis of random positioning of roots in voids. Where roots grew in larger pores or voids the degree of root-soil contact was greater than expected for random positioning of roots. Possible mechanisms of the observed preference of roots for proximity to the soil, and higher root-soil contact are discussed.

Key words

image analysismaizenearest-neighbour distanceroot-soil contactsoil compactionsoil porositythin-section technique
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992