, Volume 148, Issue 1, pp 29-41

A comparison of minirhizotron, core and monolith methods for quantifying barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and fababean (Vicia faba L.) root distribution

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Root research has been hampered by a lack of good methods and by the amount of time involved in making measurements. The use of the minirhizotron as a quantitative tool requires comparison with conventional destructive methods. This study was conducted in the greenhouse to compare the minirhizotron technique with core and monolith methods in quantifying barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and fababean (Vicia faba L.) root distribution. Plants were grown in boxes (80 cm long × 80 cm wide × 75 cm deep) in a hexagonal arrangement to minimize the effects of rooting anistrophy. Minirhizotron observations and destructive sampling to a depth of 70 cm using core and monolith methods were performed at the ripening growth stage. Total root length for the entire depth interval was generally higher in barley (159–309 m) than fababean (110–226 m). Significant correlation coefficients between monolith and core methods for root length density (RLD, cm cm−3) was observed in both crops (p ≤ 0.01). A method and depth interaction showed no significant differences in fababean RLD distribution measured by core and monolith methods. However, the RLD was different for the uppermost 40 cm depth in barley. The relationship for RLD between minirhizotron and core methods was significant only in barley (r=0.77*). For both crops, estimates of RLD in the top 10-cm layer by the minirhizotron technique were lower than those by core and monolith techniques. In contrast, estimates of RLD were higher in fababean at a depth >30 cm. Destructive sampling still remains the method to quantify root growth in the 0–10 cm soil layer. ei]B E Clothier