Plant and Soil

, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 133–145 | Cite as

A model (WHTROOT) which synchronizes root growth and development with shoot development for winter wheat

  • J. R. Porter
  • Betty Klepper
  • R. K. Belford


A model has been developed of root growth in winter wheat based on cumulative thermal time with description of the extension and branching of individual age classes of seminal and crown root axes. The model requires, as input, the sowing date and average monthly mean air temperatures and gives, as output, the maximum depth of penetration of each age class of root and the root length density or root weight in any 10 cm layer of soil contributed by main axes, first-order and second-order laterals on any calendar date.

The impact of soil temperature on root length density distributions with time was assessed by comparing a warm site (Perth, Australia) with a cool site (Rothamsted Experimental Station, England). Simulated values of root length density for plants with six leaves were consistently high when soil temperature was held constant at 10°C, but variable soil temperatures at each site resulted in rooting profiles characteristic for the two sites, although root length densities were larger than commonly observed at either location.

The model simulates well described sequences of root production and permits calculation of maximal root development rates for unstressed plants growing in moist soil with no mechanical impedance to growth. It allows the co-development of root and shoot to be modelled and since it uses only about 5 K bytes of computer memory could be easily used for the assessment of management practices in the field.

Key words

Development Model Root Shoot Thermal time Wheat 


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. R. Porter
    • 1
  • Betty Klepper
    • 2
  • R. K. Belford
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of Bristol, Long Ashton Research StationBristolUK
  2. 2.USDA-ARS Columbia Plateau Conservation Research CentrePendletonUSA
  3. 3.Plant Protection DivisionICI Industries plcFernhurstUK

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