, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 919–931 | Cite as

Spatial distribution of coarse root biomass and carbon in a high-density olive orchard: effects of mechanical harvesting methods

  • A. SorgonàEmail author
  • A. R. Proto
  • L. M. Abenavoli
  • A. Di Iorio
Original Article


Key message

The in situ 3D root architecture of Olea europea was described by a semi-automatic 3D digitizing approach, which permitted the estimation of the biomass and carbon content of coarse roots in the soil environment.


Coarse roots, the skeleton of the root system, are of primary importance for soil exploration and plant anchorage and only recently have been recognized as playing a major role in “long-term” carbon sequestration. Despite this role, the 3D architecture of coarse roots represents a gap in knowledge on the biomass and carbon allocation within the root system and, consequently, below-ground carbon sequestration capacity. Using a semi-automatic 3D digitizing approach (3 Space Fastrak plus Long Ranger), the 3D distribution in the soil environment of coarse root biomass and C content and how these parameters were affected by manual and mechanical (trunk shaker) harvesting methods were quantified in a high-density olive orchard. The below-ground C content at stand level was estimated to be 11.93 Mg C ha−1 and distributed at deeper soil layers (45–60 cm) in the form of first- and second-order branching roots. The present study also revealed that the mechanical harvesting method significantly increased both the angle of growth (0° = vertically downwards) of first-order lateral roots and the stump biomass, but neither the biomass allocation nor the C content was increased within the first three branching orders.


Root architecture Olive Harvesting method Carbon sequestration 



The authors are grateful to the Chiaravalloti family for the making their farm available and for their warm hospitality. The authors also thank De Rossi A., Bartolo P., and Papandrea S. for their very useful work. The authors gratefully acknowledge the two anonymous referees for their valuable comments. We are also grateful to John Levy for revising and editing the text. Research was supported by Grants from Regione Calabria to Dr. Abenavoli L., project PSR 2007–2013—Misura 124 “Sistemi innovativi per la qualità della filiera dell’olio extravergine di oliva—SIFOLIO”.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

468_2018_1686_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (428 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 427 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AgricultureMediterranean University of Reggio CalabriaReggio CalabriaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Biotechnologies and Life SciencesUniversity of InsubriaVareseItaly

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