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Backscattered Electron Scanning Images of Soil Porosity for Analyzing Soil Compaction around Roots

Abstract : Thin sections of soil surrounding maize roots were studied in scanning electron microscopy using the backscattered electron mode. The soil is a fine-loamy, mixed, mesic, Typic Eutrochrept. Backscattered electron scanning images (BESI) of the porosity surrounding a selected maize (Zea mays L.) root were studied by image analysis at the scale of micro- and mesopores. Image analysis of BESI revealed that the porosity was 22 to 24% less within the soil surrounding the root than in the bulk soil. The bulk density increased up to 1.80 Mg m−3 close by the root-soil interface, although it was 1.54 Mg m−3 in the bulk soil. The porosity reduction consisted of a removal of the mesopores and a decrease in micropores, which resulted from the packing of skeleton grains with the porous clayey phase. The micropores were affected, although they are usually thought to be altered only with difficulty under natural conditions. A model which was developed earlier for soil compression around roots of plants growing on remolded soils was fitted to the experimental data by nonlinear regression analysis.
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Ary Bruand, Isabelle Cousin, Bernard Nicoullaud, Odile Duval, Jean-Claude Bégon. Backscattered Electron Scanning Images of Soil Porosity for Analyzing Soil Compaction around Roots. Soil Science Society of America Journal, Soil Science Society of America, 1996, 60 (3), pp.895-901. ⟨10.2136/sssaj1996.03615995006000030031x⟩. ⟨insu-00861809⟩

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