Water drawdown by radish (Raphanus sativus L.) multiple-root systems evaluated using computed tomography

MA Hamza, SH Anderson, Graham Aylmore

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Although measurements of water drawdown by single radish root systems have been previously published by the authors, further research is needed to evaluate water drawdown patterns in multiple-root systems. The objective of this study was to compare water transpiration patterns estimated using X-ray computed tomography (CT) with the traditional gravimetric method and to evaluate the effects of variably spaced multiple root systems on soil water content and corresponding water content gradients.Water drawdown showed a dual pattern in which it increased rapidly when soil water content was high at the beginning of transpiration, then slowed down to an almost constant level with time as water content decreased. These results contrast with the single-root system wherein transpiration rates initially increased rapidly and then slowly increased with time. Water uptake estimated using the CT method was observed to be 27-38% lower than the gravimetrically estimated water uptake; this difference was attributed to lower water uptake for the upper 30mm layer (CT measured) than lower layers due to differences in root density. However, good correlation (r = 0.97) was found between both measurement methods. The drawdown patterns for multiple root systems showed a convex shape from the root surface to the bulk soil, compared with a nearly linear shape for single roots. The water content drawdown areas and the drawdown distances for multiple root systems were found to be much larger than those corresponding to single radish roots. Differential water content gradients were observed for roots spaced at 15-mm distances compared with 3-4-mm distances. These differential gradients from the bulk soil towards the root-zone occurred probably creating localised water potential gradients within the root-zone, which moved water from between roots to root surfaces. The lowest water content values were located in the inter-root areas. The CT-scanned layer probably acted as one drawdown area with particularly higher water drawdown from the inter-root areas.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)228-236
    JournalAustralian Journal of Soil Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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