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Preferential wheat (Triticum aestivum. L cv. Fielder) root growth in different sized aggregates

DOI: 10.1016/j.still.2021.105054 DOI Help

Authors: Tinashe Mawodza (The University of Sheffield) , Manoj Menon (The University of Sheffield) , Harriet Brooks (The University of Sheffield) , Oxana V. Magdysyuk (Diamond Light Source) , Genoveva Burca (ISIS Facility) , Stuart Casson (The University of Sheffield)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Soil And Tillage Research , VOL 212

State: Published (Approved)
Published: August 2021
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 22992

Abstract: Soil structure is one of the most important environmental factors affecting root architectural development and consequently plant yield. Understanding how plant roots respond to soils with variable soil structure is important as it enables soil management practices that promote optimal root growth. Many contemporary, non-invasive experiments investigating how plant root architecture responds to soil structural variations have often focused on compaction, often neglecting the role of soil aggregate size in determining root configuration. To better understand this, in this study, we used non-invasive neutron and X-Ray imaging to investigate how variable aggregate size affects the early root architectural establishment in wheat plants. Sandy loam soil derived macro-aggregates of two distinct sizes (0.25−0.5 and 2−4 mm) were used to infer the suitability of each aggregate size for use in wheat seedbeds. We also grew wheat seedlings in partitioned containers with the two different aggregate size classes filled side by side to establish whether there would be preferential growth of roots in either aggregate size class. Our results showed significantly increased root growth in the smaller 0.25−0.5 mm aggregates as compared to the larger 2−4 mm aggregates. This was mainly as a result of enhanced lateral root growth when the wheat plants were grown in the finer aggregates. On the other hand, coarser aggregates induced significantly increased seminal root axes which partially offset the differences in total root length between the two aggregate sizes. Plants growing in partitioned containers similarly indicated preferential root growth in smaller aggregate with an even more pronounced difference in root growth in the smaller aggregates. As inferred from our results, seedbeds dominated by smaller macro-aggregates (finer soil tilth) may be optimal to enhance wheat seedling root growth in sandy loam soils.

Journal Keywords: Soil aggregates; Soil Structure; Neutron computed tomography; X-Ray computed tomography

Subject Areas: Earth Science

Instruments: I12-JEEP: Joint Engineering, Environmental and Processing

Other Facilities: IMAT at ISIS

Discipline Tags:

Earth Sciences & Environment Plant science Life Sciences & Biotech Agriculture & Fisheries

Technical Tags:

Imaging Tomography