Marschner Review

Plant and Soil

, Volume 313, Issue 1, pp 1-17

First online:

Plant hydraulic lift of soil water – implications for crop production and land restoration

  • Hans-Holger ListeAffiliated withBundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen, Julius Kühn-Institut Email author 
  • , Jason C. WhiteAffiliated withDepartment of Soil and Water, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

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Water more than other factors limits growth and productivity of terrestrial plants. Strategies of plants to cope with soil drought include hydraulic redistribution of water via roots from moist to dry soil. During periods of drought, water may be transported upward through root systems from moister subsurface to dry surface soil by a process known as “hydraulic lift” (HL). On warm and dry days when plant transpiration peaks, hydraulically lifted water released into soil can support growth and survival of the lifting and neighboring plants. Soil and rhizosphere microorganisms and the soil fauna could also benefit from HL-derived water, which eventually increases the availability of nutrients to plants. Although HL was examined mainly in the context of terrestrial plant ecology, this biological subterranean sprinkler process may also prove to be a sustainable alternative to conventional engineered irrigation techniques currently used for agronomical purposes. Therefore, this review aims to outline and discuss potential practical application of HL for crop production, land restoration, and soil phytoremediation.


Agroecosystems Bioirrigation Bioremediation Intercropping Phreatophytes Reforestation