Root length and biomass losses during sample preparation with different screen mesh sizes
- Cite this article as:
- Amato, M. & Pardo, A. Plant Soil (1994) 161: 299. doi:10.1007/BF00046401
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Data are presented on the differences in root length density (RLD), dry matter (DM), and root diameter values determined on wheat and faba bean using sieves of different mesh size to separate roots from soil during sample preparation. Screens with 0.2, 1, and 2 mm (0.04, 1, and 4 mm2) aperture were used. Roots collected on the 2-mm sieve represented on average 55% of the weight and only 10% of the total length collected using a 0.2-mm sieve. With a 1-mm sieve 75% of weight was retained, but only 34% of the length. In the 0–20 cm soil layer average RLD and DM values ranged between 1.3 and 2.5 cm cm-3 and 215 and 136 g m-2 for faba bean and wheat respectively with 2 mm screens and 14.6 and 18.1 cm cm-3 and 313 and 202 g m-2 with 0.2 mm sieves. RLD was more affected than weight since losses from coarse screens were largely due to fine root fractions, although the 1-and 2-mm screens retained a small amount of fine roots that were long or attached to main structures. Variability was higher for measurements on coarser screens. The use of screens much coarser than the diameter of fine roots is not recommended for the study of surface-related phenomena in which root length quantification is necessary, while it may be acceptable for gross comparisons of root weight and spatial extent.