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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 70 No. 5, p. 1489-1503
     
    Published: Sept, 2006


    * Corresponding author(s): dwalters1@unl.edu
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doi:10.2136/sssaj2005.0216

Maize Root Biomass and Net Rhizodeposited Carbon

  1. B. Amos and
  2. D. T. Walters *
  1. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Lincoln, NE 68583-0915

Abstract

Assessment of net primary productivity of maize (Zea mays L)-based agroecosystems is dependent on both above and belowground dry matter production that is ultimately returned to the soil as residue and decaying roots. Root to shoot ratio (R/S) is a parameter often used to estimate root biomass (RB) when shoot biomass is measured or estimated. The labor intensive nature of root sampling and wide variety of sampling techniques has lead to a paucity of maize RB data in the literature, and few researchers have endeavored to characterize R/S throughout an entire growing season. In this paper, the results of 45 maize root studies published in 41 journal articles are summarized and the data used to generate estimates of maize RB and R/S versus days after emergence (DAE). The data from these studies indicate that on average, RB was maximized just after anthesis at approximately 31 g plant−1 (13.6 g C plant−1) and that average R/S varied from a high of 0.68 at emergence to a low of 0.16 at physiological maturity. Net rhizodeposited C as a percentage of total net root-derived belowground C at time of sampling (%NRC) was reported for 12 maize studies and varied between 5 and 62%. The wide variation in the %NRC was shown to be highly correlated with an index combining irradiance level, photoperiod, and ambient temperature, suggesting a strong dependence of net rhizodeposited C on rate of photosynthesis and soil respiration. The net belowground C deposition at maize physiological maturity is estimated as 29 ± 13% of shoot biomass C for maize that has not experienced stress.

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