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International Journal of Geophysics
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 383261, 6 pages
Research Article

Application of Electrical Resistivity Tomography for Detecting Root Biomass in Coffee Trees

Department of Agriculture, Federal University of Lavras, 37200-000 Lavras, MG, Brazil

Received 15 August 2013; Accepted 21 October 2013

Academic Editor: Jean-Pierre Burg

Copyright © 2013 Carlos Mauricio Paglis. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Roots play an important role in plants and are responsible for several functions; among them are anchorage and nutrient and water absorption. Several methodologies are being tested and used to study plant root systems in order to avoid destructive root sampling. Electrical resistivity tomography is among these methodologies. The aim of this preliminary study was to use electrical resistivity for detecting root biomass in coffee trees. Measurements were performed in a soil transect with an ABM AL 48-b resistivimeter with a pole-dipole configuration. The tomograms indicated variability in soil resistivity values ranging from 120 to 1400 Ω·m−1. At the first 0.30 cm soil layer, these values were between 267 and 952 Ω·m−1. Oriented by this result, root samples were taken at 0.10, 0.20, and 0.30 m depths within 0.50 m intervals along the soil transect to compare soil resistivity with root mass density (RMD). RMD data, up to this depth, varied from 0.000019 to 0.009469 Mg·m−3, showing high spatial variability and significant relationship to the observed values of soil resistivity. These preliminary results showed that the electrical resistivity tomography can contribute to root biomass studies in coffee plants; however, more experiments are necessary to confirm the found results in Brazil coffee plantations.