Plant and Soil

, Volume 210, Issue 1, pp 43–50 | Cite as

Assessing fine-root biomass and production in a Scots pine stand – comparison of soil core and root ingrowth core methods

  • Kirsi Makkonen
  • Heljä-Sisko Helmisaari


Soil core and root ingrowth core methods for assessing fine-root (< 2 mm) biomass and production were compared in a 38-year-old Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L) stand in eastern Finland. 140 soil cores and 114 ingrowth cores were taken from two mineral soil layers (0–10 cm and 10–30 cm) during 1985–1988. Seasonal changes in root biomass (including both Scots pine and understorey roots) and necromass were used for calculating fine-root production. The Scots pine fine-root biomass averaged annually 143 g/m2 and 217 g/m2 in the upper mineral soil layer, and 118 g/m2 and 66 g/m2 in the lower layer of soil cores and ingrowth cores, respectively. The fine-root necromass averaged annually 601 g/m2 and 311 g/m2 in the upper mineral soil layer, and 196 g/m2 and 159 g/m2 in the lower layer of soil cores and ingrowth cores, respectively. The annual fine-root production in a Scots pine stand in the 30 cm thick mineral soil layer, varied between 370–1630 g/m2 in soil cores and between 210 – 490 g/m2 in ingrowth cores during three years. The annual production calculated for Scots pine fine roots, varied between 330–950 g/m2 in soil cores and between 110 – 610 g/m2 in ingrowth cores. The horizontal and vertical variation in fine-root biomass was smaller in soil cores than in ingrowth cores. Roots in soil cores were in the natural dynamic state, while the roots in the ingrowth cores were still expanding both horizontally and vertically. The annual production of fine-root biomass in the Scots pine stand was less in root ingrowth cores than in soil cores. During the third year, the fine-root biomass production of Scots pine, when calculated by the ingrowth core method, was similar to that calculated by the soil core method. Both techniques have sources of error. In this research the sampling interval in the soil core method was 6–8 weeks, and thus root growth and death between sampling dates could not be accurately estimated. In the ingrowth core method, fine roots were still growing into the mesh bags. In Finnish conditions, after more than three growing seasons, roots in the ingrowth cores can be compared with those in the surrounding soil. The soil core method can be used for studying both the annual and seasonal biomass variations. For estimation of production, sampling should be done at short intervals. The ingrowth core method is more suitable for estimating the potential of annual fine-root production between different site types.

biomass fine-root ingrowth core method production Scots pine soil core method 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirsi Makkonen
    • 1
  • Heljä-Sisko Helmisaari
  1. 1.Vantaa Research CentreFinnish Forest Research InstituteVantaaFinland E-mail

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