Submitted to: International Society of Root Research Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 18, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
An understanding of the physical environment of the root and vadose zones is critical for future advances in agricultural and environmental sciences. Members of the committee have developed or modified root research methodologies to address specific root-related research projects. For example, several members have utilized variations of the minirhizotron technique for their research. One member has developed a pressurized-wall minirhizotron technique for use in soils that shrink during drying causing a gap to form between the soil and walls of conventional hard-plastic minirhizotrons. Another member has used minirhizotrons to study root-induced micropores and root modifications of soil water and ion fluxes. X-ray computed tomography is another technique for observing roots in soil used by a member of the committee. This technique permits observations of roots, macropores, and solute movement in intact soil cores over time. Two members of the group have modified the soil monolith technique to study the effect of phosphorus placement on root growth, weed-crop interactions, and insect damage of maize roots. And lastly, another member has helped to develop the methodology and software for collecting digitized images of dyed roots obtained from soil samples with a desktop scanner, smoothing and processing the digitized images, and determining root length, area, and diameter on an individual object or total image basis. As a result of the communication and cooperation among members of the CSREES-sponsored committee, unproductive approaches have been avoided, our rate of progress has increased, and our understanding of root processes and interactions in the soil has improved.