OpenFields

1630: Grass roots and soil

This paper has been summarised from a leaflet by Mike Humphreys of IBERS, University of Aberystwyth “Grass roots for improved soil structure and hydrology”

Year of Publication2012

Grasslands provide hidden benefits for the environment through the growth and turn-over of their complex subterranean root systems. Precision breeding is incorporating genes from fescues into ryegrasses to produce plants with deeper roots which can respond to water shortage by increasing root growth. Grassland also traps precipitation and improves the bio-physical structure of the soil helping to sustain fragile ecosystems, hold up the release of greenhouse gases and water pollutants and sequester carbon. Studies have shown that these cultivars could reduce rainfall run off from 70% to 35%.

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