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Virtual soil-root systems

Linking nutrient uptake from subsoil with water dynamics and plant growth can be achieved by applying mathematical modelling approaches. Practical applications include water and nutrient management, salinity control of root zones or regulation of pesticides. In Soil3, we focus on modelling plant resource uptake from the subsoil as affected by different subsoil management strategies. We develop modelling approaches on the single root system scale that resolve 3D root growth, water uptake and nutrient gradients and biogeochemical reactions nearby roots. In particular, we consider soil structural effects on root system development. Frequently encountering dense subsoil where root elongation rate is reduced, roots may grow in biopores created by pre- or intercrops that facilitate root growth into deeper layers. It has been shown that this may increase crop yield between 30 to 300%.
We link our model results to crop models operating at the field scale, to inform them on root growth dynamics and the turnover and uptake of nutrients from subsoils as well as spatial variations in soil water/nutrient content and uptake rates.
We compare our modelling results with other groups within Soil3 that study the same research question, i.e., which are the preferential positions (depths) for water and nutrient uptake in different conditions, with different experimental methods.

Prof. Dr. Andrea Schnepf
Tel. : +49 2461 61 2658

Prof. Dr. Jan Vanderborght
Tel.: +49 2461 61 2281