Uptake of water from a Kandosol subsoil. II. Control of water uptake by roots

David M. Deery, John B. Passioura, Jason Condon, Asitha Katupitiya

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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Aim To test for the presence of an impediment to water flow at the soil-root interface.Methods Wheat plants were grown in repacked and undisturbed field soil. Their transpiration rate, E, was varied in several steps from low to high and then back to low again, while the hydrostatic pressure in the leaf xylem, �ˆxylem, was measured non-destructively and continuously. These measurements were compared to a mathematical model that calculated �ˆxylem by assuming that the hydraulic resistance across the plant was constant and that the radial flow of water to unit length of a typical plant root generated gradients in pressure in the soil water.Results For the repacked soil, the radial flow model could not match the experiment during the falling phase of E, unless it was assumed that either an additional, constant, interfacial resistance between the soil and the roots had developed when E was large and �ˆxylem was rapidly falling, or that the resistance within the plant had changed. For the undisturbed field soil, the radial flow model did not agree with the experiment. Plausible agreement was achieved when plant water uptake was accounted for using a distributed sink model in HYDRUS-1D, with E integrated across the rootzone. This approach was based on the measured large variation in the vertical distribution of roots.Conclusions There was no strong evidence of large drawdowns of soil water in the rhizosphere, even when �ˆxylem was falling rapidly when E was large and the soil was moderately dry. Thus, there seems to have been an additional impediment to water flow from soil to plant, either within the plant, or at the interface between the two.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-667
Number of pages19
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


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