Above- and belowground biomass in a mixed cropping system with eight novel winter faba bean genotypes and winter wheat using FTIR spectroscopy for root species discrimination

  • Juliane StreitEmail author
  • Catharina Meinen
  • William Christopher Dougal Nelson
  • Daniel Johannes Siebrecht-Schöll
  • Rolf Rauber
Regular Article


Background and aims

Legume-cereal mixtures are often characterized by higher biomass and grain yields compared to their sole crop equivalents due to complementary resource use. Little is known about the contribution of the root system to this overyielding potential and the related cultivar differences. This study investigated pure stands and mixtures of eight winter faba bean (Vicia faba L.) genotypes and one winter wheat cultivar (Triticum aestivum L., cv. Genius) with regard to their intra- and interspecific variation of shoot and root biomass and overyielding potential at full flowering of the bean.


Shoot biomass of 1 m2 was harvested and roots were sampled with a root auger down to 0.6 m soil depth in two sampling years. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy was successfully used to determine species specific root biomasses in mixtures. Statistics were performed using linear mixed effects models.


Mixtures of winter faba bean and winter wheat overyielded more below- than aboveground. Bean genotypes grown in mixtures with wheat differed significantly in their root biomass, root:shoot ratio and overyielding potential but not in their shoot biomass.


Genotype differences in root biomass and overyielding indicate breeding potential of winter faba bean cultivars for mixed cropping.


Vicia faba Triticum aestivum Legume-cereal intercropping FTIR spectra Root shoot ratio Overyielding 





Fourier Transform Infrared




Relative Yield


Relative Yield Total


Vicia faba


Triticum aestivum



This field experiment was part of the IMPAC3 project of the Centre of Biodiversity and sustainable Land Use at the University of Goettingen. We thank the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, FKZ 031A351A,B,C) for funding. We gratefully acknowledge our project partners the Deutsche Saatveredelung (DSV) and the Norddeutsche Pflanzenzucht NPZ. We thank Christiane Münter, Thomas Seibold, Gabriele Kolle and the field workers for their help in the field and in the laboratory. Moreover we are grateful for the help of Dr. Bettina Tonn during the statistical analyses.

Supplementary material

11104_2018_3904_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 27 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Crop Sciences, Division of AgronomyUniversity of GoettingenGoettingenGermany
  2. 2.Centre of Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Use (CBL)University of GoettingenGoettingenGermany
  3. 3.Tropical Plant Production and Agricultural Systems Modelling (TROPAGS)University of GoettingenGoettingenGermany
  4. 4.Department of Crop Sciences, Division of Plant BreedingUniversity of GoettingenGoettingenGermany

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