Biomechanical properties of the growing and decaying roots of Cynodon dactylon

Viroon Kamchoom, David Boldrin, Anthony Kwan Leung (Lead / Corresponding author), Chanakan Sookkrajang, Suched Likitlersuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)


Aim: Root growth and decay may affect root reinforcement to soil erosion and stability. We measured the effects of growth and decay on the tensile strength of Cynodon dactylon roots considering different causes of mortality common to agricultural land conversion (i.e. burning and herbicide application). Method: We applied three treatments to C. dactylon grass: (i) growth duration (60, 120 and 180 days), (ii) decay duration after burning (30, 60, 120, 180 and 360 days) and (iii) decay duration after herbicide application (15, 30 and 60 days). The diameter, tensile strength and cellulose and lignin contents of root samples (n = 303) in different treatments were measured. Results: Tensile strength–diameter relations followed a negative power law regardless of treatment (R2 > 0.6). The increase in median tensile strength values due to grass growth was consistent with the increase in cellulose and lignin contents. Root decay by herbicide application caused significantly greater and faster reduction in tensile strength than burning treatment because of the faster reduction of cellulose and lignin contents. Conclusion: Root decay due to different causes of plant mortality can increase susceptibility to erosion and slope instability during the conversion of agricultural land. Measures on slope safety and erosion are vital when using herbicides for weed clearance in farmlands due to the faster deterioration of root chemical composition and root tensile strength (compared with burning).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-210
Number of pages18
JournalPlant and Soil
Early online date10 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Burning
  • Cellulose
  • Herbicide
  • Lignin
  • Root decay
  • Root tensile strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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