Plant and Soil

, Volume 185, Issue 2, pp 255–258 | Cite as

Root sampling methods - applications and limitations of the minirhizotron technique

  • Hooshang Majdi


Applications and limitations of the minirhizotron technique (non-destructive) in relation to two frequently used destructive methods (soil coreing and ingrowth cores) is discussed. Sequential coreing provides data on standing crop but it is difficult to obtain data on root biomass production. Ingrowth cores can provide a quick estimate of relative fine-root growth when root growth is rapid. One limitation of the ingrowth core is that no information on the time of ingrowth and mortality is obtained.

The minirhizotron method, in contrast to the destructive methods permits simultaneous calculation of fine-root length production and mortality and turnover. The same fine-root segment in the same soil space can be monitored for its life time, and stored in a database for processing. The methodological difficulties of separating excavated fine roots into living and dead vitality classes are avoided, since it is possible to judge directly the successive ageing of individual roots from the images. It is concluded that the minirhizotron technique is capable of quantifying root dynamics (root-length production, mortality and longevity) and fine-root decomposition. Additionally, by combining soil core data (biomass, root length and nutrient content) and minirhizotron data (length production and mortality), biomass production and nutrient input into the soil via root mortality and decomposition can be estimated.

Key words

decomposition fine roots longevity minirhizotrons mortality production soil core 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hooshang Majdi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Environmental ResearchSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden

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