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

S. Ruiz*, N. Koebernick, S. Duncan, D. Mc Kay Fletcher, C. Scotson, A. Boghi, M. Marin, A. G. Bengough, T. S. George, L. K. Brown, P. D. Hallett, T. Roose

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Abstract: 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
Number of pages24
JournalPlant and Soil
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2019


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


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