Root Methods pp 211-233 | Cite as

Trench Profile Techniques and Core Break Methods

  • M. van Noordwijk
  • G. Brouwer
  • F. Meijboom
  • M. do Rosário G. Oliveira
  • A. G. Bengough


This chapter describes methods for root observations based on mapping or counting root intersections with planes of observation in the soil. Normally these planes of observation are either vertical or horizontal. Compared with the methods based on washed root samples discussed in Chapter 6, these “profile wall” methods have advantages as well as disadvantages. A major disadvantage of the profile wall methods is that only a small part of a root is visible on such an intersection and it is not easy to distinguish between roots of different species, or between live or dead roots. Even the question of whether a whitish thread-like object sticking out of a plane is a root and not an enchytraeid (pot worm) or other soil organism may take some experience to answer (potworms move when touched). Creating access to planes of observation via trenches can be a rather destructive activity which is not welcome on small experimental plots, especially those intended for long-term experiments. On the positive side, however, profile wall methods can give a quick estimate of overall root distribution and can give detailed information on spatial patterns of roots in their interaction with physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the soil profile. If maps are made of root occurrence as well as any other readily observable feature, the toolbox of geographical information systems and quantitative map analysis can be used to analyze patterns, be it in only two dimensions.


Root Intersection Root Distribution Root Length Density Point Density Observation Plane 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. van Noordwijk
    • 1
  • G. Brouwer
    • 2
  • F. Meijboom
    • 2
  • M. do Rosário G. Oliveira
    • 3
  • A. G. Bengough
    • 4
  1. 1.ICRAF • JI CIFORBogorIndonesia
  2. 2.Plant Research InternationalWageningenNetherlands
  3. 3.University of ÉvoraÉvoraPortugal
  4. 4.Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI)Invergrowie, DundeeUK

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