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An Empirical Mathematical Model to Describe Plant Root Systems

A. Gerwitz and E. R. Page
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 11, No. 2 (Aug., 1974), pp. 773-781
DOI: 10.2307/2402227
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2402227
Page Count: 9
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
An Empirical Mathematical Model to Describe Plant Root Systems
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Abstract

A survey has been made of the literature in which the root systems of vegetable crops, cereals and grasses have been investigated by various techniques, including excavation and the use of radioactive tracers. An empirical model was used to standardize the data. One form of the model is P = 100 (1 - e-fx) in which P represents the percentage of roots contained in a depth of soil x cm. f is a parameter, such that 1/f is equal to the depth of soil which contains 63% of the total root mass. The effects of soil moisture, fertility, plant age, weight and species as f are considered. Seventy one out of the 101 sets of data fitted the model very satisfactorily. It is expected that the model will be useful in constructing mathematical models to simulate plant growth.

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