Main authors: Abdallah Alaoui
Editor: Jane Brandt
Source documents: Alaoui, A. (2018) Visual Soil Quality Assessment Manual v2: assessment of soil and plant quality for the season 2018.  iSQAPER Report  49 pp



Consolidation and compaction of the seedbed restricts plant growth and vigour by restricting root development, owing to increased mechanical resistance and impeded soil aeration. High mechanical resistance to roots limits plant uptake of water and nutrients, restricts the production of several plant hormones in roots, which are necessary for growth, and increases the susceptibility of the crop to lodging.


Determine the size and development of the root system, ideally when the soil is still moist by carefully removing the plant from the soil and gently shaking it to remove excess soil from the roots. Compare the root systems with the pictures.

VSA2 fig15.1
VSA2 fig15.2
Moderate and Poor (insert)


Good condition: Score 2

Unrestricted root development with the main large root bulb up to 25cm wide and 20-25cm deep.

Moderate condition: Score 1

The main root bulb is commonly 15cm wide and 15-18cm deep. Vertical root development is often restricted below 12cm with right-angle syndrome not uncommon.

Poor condition: Score 0

Vertical and lateral root development is severely restricted, with root systems showing either right-angle syndrome, over thickening, or growth down coulter channels.



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