A novel technique for rapidly separating willow roots from clay soil
Van Rees, K.C.J.
Peer Reviewed StatusNon-Peer Reviewed
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Numerous studies have examined the root dynamics of willow biomass energy crops growing on medium to coarse-textured soils, using either soil coring, minirhizotron techniques, or a combination thereof. However, neither approach is well suited for studying roots in soil of high clay content. Our objective was to test the efficacy of using a simple baking soda (NaHCO3) pre-treatment for facilitating the separation of willow roots from a Vertisol (70% clay). Soil cores were collected from within a willow variety trial plot of Tully Champion (Salix viminalis x S. miyabeana) and were either conventionally washed (i.e., no pre-treatment) or washed following a pre-treatment consisting of shaking the sample for 15 min with either deionized water or 1.2M NaHCO3. Measurement variables included washing duration, water usage, and recovery of fine (< 2 mm) and coarse roots. The ranking of washing duration and water usage was 1.2M NaHCO3 pre-treatment < deionized water pre-treatment < conventional washing. Compared to conventional washing, the 1.2M NaHCO3 pre-treatment reduced the washing duration and water usage by 45 and 61%, respectively, while increasing the fine-root recovery by 29%. There was no significant difference (P > 0.05) in coarse root recovery among the three washing methods. Developing a quicker technique of separating willow roots from high clay content soils hould promote further investigations of root growth dynamics within this traditionally difficult soil type.
Part OfSoils and Crops Workshop
soil core washing
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