Significance of root hairs at the field scale - modelling root water and phosphorus uptake under different field conditions

S. Ruiz (Lead / Corresponding author), N. Koebernick, S. Duncan, D. McKay Fletcher, C. Scotson, A. Boghi, M. Marin, A. G. Bengough, T. S. George, L. K. Brown, P. D. Hallett, T. Roose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Background and aims: Root hairs play a significant role in phosphorus (P) extraction at the pore scale. However, their importance at the field scale remains poorly understood.

Methods: This study uses a continuum model to explore the impact of root hairs on the large-scale uptake of P, comparing root hair influence under different agricultural scenarios. High vs low and constant vs decaying P concentrations down the soil profile are considered, along with early vs late precipitation scenarios.

Results: Simulation results suggest root hairs accounted for 50% of total P uptake by plants. Furthermore, a delayed initiation time of precipitation potentially limits the P uptake rate by over 50% depending on the growth period. Despite the large differences in the uptake rate, changes in the soil P concentration in the domain due to root solute uptake remains marginal when considering a single growth season. However, over the duration of 6 years, simulation results showed that noticeable differences arise over time.

Conclusion: Root hairs are critical to P capture, with uptake efficiency potentially enhanced by coordinating irrigation with P application during earlier growth stages of crops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-304
Number of pages24
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Early online date6 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Field
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Phosphorus
  • Plant roots
  • Rhizosphere
  • Root hairs
  • Soil
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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