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Core-labelling technique (CLT): a novel combination of the ingrowth-core method and tracer technique for deep root study

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Han, Eusun; Dresbøll, Dorte Bodin and Thorup-Kristensen, Kristian (2020) Core-labelling technique (CLT): a novel combination of the ingrowth-core method and tracer technique for deep root study. Plant Methods, 16 (1), p. 84.

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Summary

Background
Ingrowth-core method is a useful tool to determine fine root growth of standing crops by inserting root-free soil in mesh-bags for certain period of time. However, the root density observed by the method does not directly explain the nutrient uptake potential of crop plants as it varies over soil depth and incubation time. We have inserted an access-tube up to 4.2 m of soil depth with openings directly under crop plants, through which ingrowth-cores containing labelled soil with nutrient tracers were installed, called core-labelling technique (CLT). The main advantage of CLT would be its capacity to determine both root density and root activity from the same crop plants in deep soil layers. We tested the validity of the new method using a model crop species, alfalfa (Medicago sativa) against three depth-levels (1.0, 2.5 and 4.2 m), three sampling spots with varying distance (0–0.36, 0.36–0.72 and > 5 m from core-labelled spot), two sampling times (week 4 and 8), and two plant parts (young and old leaves) under two field experiments (spring and autumn).
Results
Using CLT, we were able to observe both deep root growth and root activity up to 4.2 m of soil depth. Tracer concentrations revealed that there was no sign of tracer-leakage to adjacent areas which is considered to be advantageous over the generic tracer-injection. Root activity increased with longer incubation period and tracer concentrations were higher in younger leaves only for anionic tracers.
Conclusions
Our results indicate that CLT can lead to a comprehensive deep root study aiming at measuring both deep root growth and root activity from the same plants. Once produced and installed, the access-tubes and ingrowth-cores can be used for a long-term period, which reduces the workload and cost for the research. Therefore, CLT has a wide range of potential applications to the research involving roots in deep soil layers, which requires further confirmation by future experiments.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Deep roots, Ingrowth-core, Tracer techniques, 15N, nutrient analogues, Alfalfa
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Crop combinations and interactions
Soil > Nutrient turnover
Research affiliation: Denmark > Private funders/foundations > Deep Frontier
Denmark > KU - University of Copenhagen
ISSN:1746-4811
DOI:10.1186/s13007-020-00622-4
Deposited By: Han, Dr. Eusun
ID Code:38136
Deposited On:15 Jun 2020 08:56
Last Modified:15 Jun 2020 08:56
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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