The measurement of length and distribution of onion roots in the field and the laboratory.

Published online
20 Oct 1972
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Baldwin, J. P. & Tinker, P. B. & Marriott, F. H. C.

Publication language


The 'Quantimet' Image Analysing Computer was used to measure the length of roots washed out from soil, and a new autoradiographic (32P) method for measuring root length in the soil is described. The root systems in pots were found to be non-random, and the theory of such populations is considered for situations where the probability of roots having a given direction is different along one axis from that along the other two. Two functions describing the distribution of root directions were used, and methods are given for deriving the true root length of such systems from spot counts on 3 mutually perpendicular autoradiographs. Good agreement was found between the length of roots measured by the 'Quantimet' and by the new method.

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