Root biomass in cereals, catch crops and weeds can be reliably estimated without considering aboveground biomass uri icon

abstract

  • In conclusion, the present analysis indicates that root biomass in cereals, catch crops and weeds can be reliably estimated without considering aboveground biomass, and it may be better estimated using fixed values based on species and farming systems than using fixed allometric ratios.
  • Reliable information on belowground plant biomass is essential to estimate belowground carbon inputs to soils. Estimations of belowground plant biomass are often based on a fixed allometric relationship of plant biomass between aboveground and belowground parts. However, environmental and management factors may affect this allometric relationship making such estimates uncertain and biased. Therefore, we aimed to explore how root biomass for typical cereal crops, catch crops and weeds could most reliably be estimated. Published and unpublished data on aboveground and root biomass (corrected to 0-25 cm depth) of cereal crops (wheat and barley), catch crops and weeds were collected from studies in Denmark. Leave one out cross validation was used to determine the model that could best estimate root biomass.
  • Root biomass varied with year, fanning system (organic versus conventional) and cereal species. Shoot and root biomass of catch crops were higher than for weeds (sampled in late autumn),, and farming system significantly affected root biomass of catch crops and weeds. The use of fixed root biomass based on the most influential factors (fanning system and species) provided the lowest error of prediction for estimation of root biomass, compared with the use of fixed allometric relations, such as root/shoot ratio. For cereal crops, the average root dry matter in organic fanning systems was 218 g m(-2) (243 and 193 g m(-2) for wheat and barley, respectively), but in conventional systems only 139 g m(-2) (142 and 129 g m(-2) for wheat and barley, respectively). For catch crops and weeds, the root dry matter in organic farming systems were around 127 and 35 g m(-2), and in conventional farming systems 75 and 28 g m(-2), respectively.

publication date

  • 2018
  • 2018