Electrical resistivity tomography of the root zone

Alex Furman, Ali Arnon-Zur, Shmuel Assouline

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Understanding root scale processes and primarily those related to uptake in the root zone is very important for proper development of agricultural practices and efficient irrigation management. Such understanding requires an ability to map in high spatial and temporal resolution at the root zone. Electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) is a geophysical method that is very sensitive to the amount of water in the soil, which makes it highly suitable for root zone mapping and monitoring. In this chapter, we review the methodology and some past applications, and through several case studies we demonstrate the limitations of the method for root zone mapping. We identify the cases for which the method is mature or close to mature, that are related mostly to relatively large-scale root zone (trees) and slow (natural) processes, and others (small-scale, high-resolution, and fast processes) for which the technology in our opinion is still limited. Among the major limitations of the technology, we identify several as most important, including the need to develop (water flow) process-based constraints to replace non-process-based ones, the need to develop small scale electrodes for dry conditions, and the need to consider time varying processes in petrophysical relations. We believe that ERT, being a relatively cheap nondestructive noninvasive method for root zone mapping, can already be used at the field scale for various agronomic applications, while as a research tool some improvements are still needed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSoil- Water- Root Processes
Subtitle of host publicationAdvances in Tomography and Imaging
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780891189596
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Agricultural practice
  • Electrical resistivity tomography
  • Irrigation management
  • Root scale process
  • Root zone
  • Root zone mapping
  • Spatial resolution
  • Temporal resolution

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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