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East Malling Rhizolab

Crop research / agronomy


General description

Following the opening of the then ‘Wye College Fruit Experiment Station’ in 1913, early work focussed on the relationships between tree anatomy and rootstock vigour. The growth and physiology of roots were studied extensively in root trenches with plate glass sides enabling in-situ field studies, where roots could be observed through the glass and root growth measured using grids etched into the glass. In the 1960s a more sophisticated root-laboratory was constructed and is today called the ‘East Malling Rhizolab’.

Technical description

Originally built in 1960, but now fully refurbished, the rhizolab enables scientists to use time-lapse photography to track root growth. The growth of roots adjacent to the windows can be observed and timing related to leaf and fruit growth above ground. The impact of soil management, planting density, irrigation and cropping levels on root growth can be assessed and related to the outcome of field trials. Measurements allow below ground production to be estimated, which is currently of value to climate change assessments.

Use: Trial space (e.g. glasshouse compartment)

Location: West Malling, Kent, ME19 6BJ