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A tool to model 3D coarse-root development with annual resolution


Dynamic root-development models are indispensable for biomechanical and biomass allocation studies, and also play an important role in understanding slope stability. There are few root-development models in the literature, and there is a specific lack of dynamic models. Therefore, the aim of this study is to develop a 3D growth-development model for coarse roots, which is species independent, as long as annual rings are formed. In order to implement this model, the objectives are (I) to interpolate annual growth layers, and (II) to evaluate the interpolations and annual volume computations. The model developed is a combination of 3D laser scans and 2D tree-ring data. A FARO laser ScanArm is used to acquire the coarse-root structure. A MATLAB program then integrates the ring-width measurements into the 3D model. A weighted interpolation algorithm is used to compute cross sections at any point within the model to obtain growth layers. The algorithm considers both the root structure and the ring-width data. The model reconstructed ring profiles with a mean absolute error for mean ring chronologies of <9% and for single radii of <20%. The interpolation accuracy was dependent on the number of input sections and root curvature. Total volume computations deviated by 3.5–6.6% from the reference model. A new robust root-modelling tool was developed which allows for annual volume computations and sophisticated root-development analyses.

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The authors wish to thank the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) for funding the project (No.: 200021-113450). Furthermore, the authors are grateful to Dr. J. Grießinger for helpful comments on the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Bettina Wagner.

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Responsible Editor: Alexia Stokes.

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Wagner, B., Santini, S., Ingensand, H. et al. A tool to model 3D coarse-root development with annual resolution. Plant Soil 346, 79–96 (2011).

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  • Allocation
  • Laser scanning
  • Root growth
  • Tree rings
  • Volume