Sugar Beet Shoot and Root Phenotypic Plasticity to Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and Lime Omission (2021)

Hadir S., Gaiser T., Hüging H., Athmann M., Pfarr D., Kemper R., Ewert F., Seidel S.

Agriculture, 11 (1), 21



In low input agriculture, a thorough understanding of the plant-nutrient interactions plays a central role. This study aims to investigate the effects of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) and liming omission on shoot growth as well as on topsoil root biomass, growth and morphology (tuber and fibrous roots) of sugar beet grown under field conditions at the Dikopshof long-term fertilizer experiment (Germany). Classical shoot observation methods were combined with root morphology and link measurements using an image analysis program. Omission of the nutrients N, P and K as well as of liming led to a significant decrease in shoot growth. Tuber yield was lowest for the unfertilized and the K omission treatment. The root shoot ratio was highest in the N deficient treatment. In the K omission treatment, a strategic change from a less herringbone root type (early stage) to a more herringbone root type (late stage), which is more efficient for the acquisition of mobile nutrients, was observed. By contrast, a change from a more herringbone (early stage) to a less herringbone root type (late stage) which is less expensive to produce and maintain was observed in the unfertilized treatment. We conclude that sugar beet alters its root morphology as a nutrient acquisition strategy.