Root volume distribution of maturing perennial grasses revealed by correcting for minirhizotron surface effects

Christopher K. Black, Michael D. Masters, David Shaner LeBauer, Kristina J. Anderson-Teixeira, Evan H Delucia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Aims: Root architecture drives plant ecology and physiology, but current detection methods limit understanding of root placement within soil profiles. We developed a statistical model of root volume along depth gradients and used it to infer carbon storage potential of land-use changes from conventional agriculture to perennial bioenergy grasses. Methods: We estimated root volume of maize-soybean rotation and three perennial grass systems (Miscanthus × giganteus, Panicum virgatum, tallgrass prairie mix) by Bayesian modeling from minirhizotron images, correcting for small images and near-surface underdetection. We monitored seasonal and inter-annual changes in root volume distribution, then validated our estimates against root mass from core samples. Results: The model explained 29% of root volume variation and validated well against core mass. Seventh-year perennials had greater belowground biomass than maize-soybean both in total (11-16×) and throughout the profile (2-17× at every depth < 120 cm). Perennials’ relative depth allocations were stable over time, while total root volume increased through five years. In 2012 a historically hot, dry summer damaged maize while perennials appeared resilient, suggesting their large-deep root systems aid drought resistance. Conclusions: Perennial root systems are large, deep, and persistent. Converting row crops to perennial bioenergy grasses likely sequesters carbon in a large, potentially very stable, soil pool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-404
Number of pages14
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume419
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

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grass
grasses
maize
bioenergy
root system
soybean
corn
root systems
root architecture
drought resistance
soybeans
Miscanthus giganteus
belowground biomass
plant ecology
detection method
Panicum virgatum
distribution
effect
plant physiology
carbon sequestration

Keywords

  • Bayesian modeling
  • Minirhizotron
  • Root allocation
  • Root volume
  • Stan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science

Cite this

Root volume distribution of maturing perennial grasses revealed by correcting for minirhizotron surface effects. / Black, Christopher K.; Masters, Michael D.; LeBauer, David Shaner; Anderson-Teixeira, Kristina J.; Delucia, Evan H.

In: Plant and Soil, Vol. 419, No. 1-2, 01.10.2017, p. 391-404.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Black, Christopher K. ; Masters, Michael D. ; LeBauer, David Shaner ; Anderson-Teixeira, Kristina J. ; Delucia, Evan H. / Root volume distribution of maturing perennial grasses revealed by correcting for minirhizotron surface effects. In: Plant and Soil. 2017 ; Vol. 419, No. 1-2. pp. 391-404.
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