Increasing root biomass-derived carbon input to agricultural soils by genotype selection

Genotype selection and breeding towards increased root biomass may enhance root carbon inputs to the soil and could therefore be a promising, easy-to-implement management option for potentially increasing carbon sequestration.

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To estimate the potential of optimised genotype selection for enhancing root biomass without compromising the yield of winter wheat, spring wheat, silage maize, winter rapeseed and sunflower, data from 13 global studies with field experiments were compiled.

A systematic genotype selection increased mean yields by 52% and mean root biomass by 22% across all crops and sites. A median root carbon increase of 6.7% for spring wheat, 6.8% for winter rapeseed, 12.2% for silage maize, 21.6% for winter wheat and 26.4% for sunflower would be possible without a yield reduction.

Thus, optimised genotype selection can offer a win-win option for increasing root biomass carbon input to the soil while maintaining or even enhancing yield.

For further details, you can refer to the newest publication by Henrike Heinemann et al., which is freely available.