Post doctoral researcher in Crop Science at the Dept of Environmental System Science - Institute of Agricultural Sciences (ETH), Zurich
Soil compaction due to the use of heavy machinery constitutes a major threat to arable land leading to persistent yield losses. Compacted soils are characterized by increased soil mechanical impedance and impaired soil aeration both resulting into decreased root growth and thus limited accessibility to water and nutrient pools. In recent years plant phenomics –the simultaneous assessment of plant phenotypic traits– received growing attention and was proven to be a powerful tool to understand mechanisms governing crop productivity under environmental stress. Phenomics may be used to identify plant traits and crop management measures enabling plants to better cope with stress. In this seminar a range of image-based techniques will be presented that were applied under controlled conditions and the field, to understand how root-soil interactions in compacted soil affect root growth, soil exploration and consequently agricultural productivity. X-ray computed tomography, microscopy and digital macrophotography were applied to relate root phenotypic traits and interactions of roots with soil macropores to below and aboveground plant growth. The implications of the obtained findings will be discussed with respect to our general understanding of root functioning under soil physical stress and potential strategies to improve crop productivity on compacted soils.
Left: Effect of soil compaction (red) and subsequent perforation (green) on soybean root growth using X-ray computed tomography
Right: Effect of different soil bulk densities on root anatomy in different root classes of wheat using bright-field microscopy
Please join us for a free lunch followed by a seminar and discussion.
Katrin Rychel, Tina Putz, Jenna Senecal and Minh Nguyen