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Root production and root mortality of winter wheat grown on sandy and loamy soils in different farming systems

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Winter wheat was grown over 2 years (1995, 1996) in an organic and integrated cropping system on sandy and loamy soils. Root growth was measured on five to six occasions each year with an auger sampling procedure and the ingrowth core method. The first resulted in an estimate of net root development, while the latter revealed gross root growth (GG) or root production. Total root production was about 80–150 km m–2 (0- to 30-cm soil layer) between April and July and exceeded the net size of the root system at harvest by a factor of between 2 and 4. The C input into the soil could be estimated as 1.4–2.6 t ha–1 by this root production. The cropping systems had nearly no influence on root production. The largest differences occurred between the years. The net root length tended to be lower on sandy soils compared to the loam, but total root production was higher. Root mortality, which is the difference between GG and net root growth, was also higher on sandy soils. The turnover index, which is the mean of the relative root production rates and relative root mortality rates, was positively related to the soil sand content in both years.

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Steingrobe, B., Schmid, H., Gutser, R. et al. Root production and root mortality of winter wheat grown on sandy and loamy soils in different farming systems. Biol Fertil Soils 33, 331–339 (2001).

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