Limiting factors in the detection of tree roots using ground-penetrating radar

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It has been reported that ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a nondestructive tool that can be used to detect coarse roots in forest soils. However, successful GPR application for root detection has been site-specific and numerous factors can interfere with the resolution of the roots. We evaluated the effects of root diameter, root volumetric water content, and vertical and horizontal intervals between roots on the root detection of Cryptomeria japonica in sand using 900-MHz GPR. We found that roots greater than 19 mm in diameter were clearly detected. Roots having high volumetric water content were easily detected, but roots with less than 20% water content were not detected. Two roots that were located closely together were not individually distinguished. These results confirm that root diameter, root water content, and intervals between roots are important factors when using GPR for root detection and that these factors lead to an underestimation of root biomass.

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