Aaron Smith

Research Scientist

(+47) 902 31 118

Ås H8

Visiting address
Høgskoleveien 8, 1433 Ås

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The accurate characterization of three-dimensional (3D) root architecture, volume, and biomass is important for a wide variety of applications in forest ecology and to better understand tree and soil stability. Technological advancements have led to increasingly more digitized and automated procedures, which have been used to more accurately and quickly describe the 3D structure of root systems. Terrestrial laser scanners (TLS) have successfully been used to describe aboveground structures of individual trees and stand structure, but have only recently been applied to the 3D characterization of whole root systems. In this study, 13 recently harvested Norway spruce root systems were mechanically pulled from the soil, cleaned, and their volumes were measured by displacement. The root systems were suspended, scanned with TLS from three different angles, and the root surfaces from the co-registered point clouds were modeled with the 3D Quantitative Structure Model to determine root architecture and volume. The modeling procedure facilitated the rapid derivation of root volume, diameters, break point diameters, linear root length, cumulative percentages, and root fraction counts. The modeled root systems underestimated root system volume by 4.4%. The modeling procedure is widely applicable and easily adapted to derive other important topological and volumetric root variables.