Valuing root carbon

Recent data indicate that underground biomass contributes 2x more than aboveground biomass to build-up and preserve soil organic matter.

Case study: maize fields

  • To determine the relative contributions of above- and underground maize-derived C to stabilized soil organic matter
  • To confirm and monitor the differential degradation of maize above- and underground maize residues under field conditions
  • To evaluate the effects of variety versus field on underground maize biomass and root system architecture


Adjust current C-models for amount and degradability of underground biomass.


  • Field experiments
  • Physical fractionation + 13C-based approach
  • LI-8100 & Picarro CRDS soil CO2 flux system
  • X-ray μCT 3D root systems

Valuing root carbon