Background & Aims: Searching for root traits underpinning efficient nutrient acquisition has received increased attention in modern breeding programs aimed at improved crop productivity. Root models provide an opportunity to investigate root-soil interactions through representing the relationships between rooting traits and the non-uniform supply of soil resources. This study used simulation modelling to predict and identify phenotypic plasticity, root growth responses and phosphorus (P) use efficiency of contrasting Lupinus angustifolius genotypes to localised soil P in a glasshouse. Methods: Two L. angustifolius genotypes with contrasting root systems were grown in cylindrical columns containing uniform soil with three P treatments (nil and 20 mg P kg-1 either top-dressed or banded) in the glasshouse. Computer simulations were carried out with root architecture model ROOTMAP which was parameterized with root architectural data from an earlier published hydroponic phenotyping study. Results: The experimental and simulated results showed that plants supplied with banded P had the largest root system and the greatest P-uptake efficiency. The P addition significantly stimulated root branching in the topsoil, whereas plants with nil P had relatively deeper roots. Genotype-dependent root growth plasticity in response to P supply was shown, with the greatest response to banded P. Conclusions: Both experimental and simulation outcomes demonstrated that 1) root hairs and root proliferation increased plant P acquisition and were more beneficial in the localised P fertilisation scenario, 2) placing P deeper in the soil might be a more effective fertilisation method with greater P uptake than top dressing, and 3) the combination of P foraging strategies (including root architecture, root hairs and root growth plasticity) is important for efficient P acquisition from a localised source of fertiliser P. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.