Experimental observations of root growth in a controlled photoelastic granular material
1 Laboratoire de Mécanique et Génie Civil, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, Montpellier, France
2 UMR IATE, CIRAD, INRA, Montpellier SupAgro, Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, France
3 CIRAD, UMR AMAP, Montpellier, France
Published online: 30 June 2017
We present a novel root observation apparatus capable of measuring the mechanical evolution of both the root network and the surrounding granular medium. The apparatus consists of 11 parallel growth frames, two of them being shearable, where the roots grow inside a photo-elastic or glass granular medium sandwiched between two pieces of glass. An automated system waters the plant and image each frame periodically in white light and between crossed polarisers. This makes it possible to follow (i) the root tips and (ii) the grain displacements as well as (iii) their inner pressure. We show how a root networks evolve in a granular medium and how it can mechanically stabilize it. This constitutes a model experiment to move forward in the understanding of the complex interaction between root growth and surrounding soil mechanical evolution.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017
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