The first investigator known to have developed a root box was probably Julius von Sachs in the 19th century (Sachs, 1865). Since then, many soil-based, ex situ growth systems, today referred to as rhizoboxes or root boxes have been developed for research, breeding and education. Different rhizobox designs and sizes are available to study roots, rhizosphere and bulk soil processes under controlled conditions. VSI rhizoboxes are durable and fully customizable - see specifications & rhizobox configurator below.
VSI is a world leader in commercial rhizobox systems - used globally by a wide range of universities, research organisations and companies. The VSI rhizoboxes
Classic rhizoboxes, with "tapped threat holes" in the side walls, remain available. Please fill out a configuration form for each design & quoting. Contact us to discuss unique rhizobox designs (explore examples). Standardized rhizobox sizes (letter sizes A3 to A5, and small volume orders) are available at the online shop for consumer customers within the EU.
Custom Rhizobox designs (as well as other options / accessories) can be configured using the Rhizobox Configuration Form (pdf).
Standard Rhizoboxes / Splitboxes & Accessories (Racks, Light Shielding Panels) are available for trials, educational purposes etc. in the online store.
Are you wondering how much soil and rooting space there will be in your rhizobox? How this depends on the size of the planting compartment and drainage layer thickness, or a splitbox design? Is the rooting volume sufficient for the expected plant size? Using the VSI rhizobox calculator (2023), you can easily determine the effects of specific rhizobox designs.
The Rhizobox designs shown above (as well as other options) can be configured using the Rhizobox Configuration Form. Please have a look at Rhizonboxes (with perforated back panels) or Rhizotrons ("ultra-large Rhizoboxes") for special design.
The VSI Rhizobox System can be fully modified to meet your goals - see the configuration form (below) and the image galerie for ideas. For example, splitting the root compartment ("Splitboxes") is a cost-effective way to double the number of replicates or treatments. As common designs have the screw holes for (independently detachable) front and back plates directly cut in the side walls ("tapped threat holes"), these holes wear out due to use/missuse (in particular dirt, overtightening). The standard VSI Rhizobox design avoids this error source by fitting screws to robust, corrosion resistant metal spacers located adjacent to the inner chamber - facilitating the filling procedure and prolonging the usability. "Old, classic designs" with tapped threat holes are still available for special applications, such as fitting respiration chambers on top of rhizoboxes. In any case, the flat surfaces of your rhizoboxes (countersunk screws) allow for space optimised placement and facilitate imaging by flatbed scanners. Angled rhizobox racks (40°, or custom angle), holding five rhizoboxes each (or custom numbers), are available at two configurations. Cost-effective shading panels protect the root systems from light. See the RhizoNbox webpage if soil pore water sampling / manipulation is part of your research. Finally, the VSI rhizobox design allows unassembled boxes to be shipped in a much smaller volume, massively reducing shipping costs (and the risk of damage by the postal services).
Please consider for your rhizobox design ...
The configuration form and the pictures above provide a good overview on potential rhizobox design, we are, however, allways open to realize your special requirements. For example, ultra large rhizoboxes for educative displays (see above) mandate other construction principles due to the weight of soils and large plants. Contact us via WhatsApp or email!
The majority of controlled experiments in plant sciences use plants grown in some container or pot - or rhizobox. Porter et al. (2012) conducted a meta-analysis on the effect of pot size on growth and underlying variables. On average, a doubling of the pot size increased biomass production by 43%. The appropriate rhizotron / rhizobox size will thus depend on the size of the plants growing in them. The meta-analysis of Porter and colleagues (2012) suggested that an appropriate pot size is one in which the plant biomass does not exceed 1 g per Liter - while current research often exceeds that threshold. Researchers thus need to carefully consider the rhizobox size applied in their experiments, as (too) small root boxes may change experimental results and defy the purpose of the study. See Porter et al. (2012) for details. However, Mašková & Klimeš (2020) found that proportional investment of plants into root biomass was similar in usual pots and in rhizoboxes. The pattern was stable across nutrition treatments and across species. Thus, if the rhizobox size is selected according to the estimated biomass at time of harvest, the geometric shape / form of the root box may have a limited effect on the experimental results. However, shallow- and deep-rooting species may still respond differently to the actual geometry of pots / rhizoboxes given the same volume (von Felten & Schmid 2008). In addition, lateral root system expansion can be limited by too narrow rhizoboxes, and too shallow rhizoboxes may hamper root systems depth development - roots "curling" at the bottom (i.e. drainage layer) of the rhizobox - hampering both growth analysis and interpretation of results incl. biomass depth stratification. Furthermore, the hight of the soil column is also an important factor in determining the water content and its distribution within pots and therefore both the water potential and oxygen availability (Passioura 2006). Thus, selecting appropriate rhizobox dimensions is key for obtaining most relevant results - we are happy to discuss species, temperature and experimental period etc. before your order.
Please see the brief article on temperature effects on root growth and development on the webpage addressing the novel cooling racks. In brief, many study keep roots (in pots or rhizoboxes) at the same temperature as shoots, with potential consequences for biomass allocation, and root and microbiome functioning. Continue reading on temperature effects.
Please see the brief article on rhizobox inclination angle on root visibility on the webpage adressing the rootbox racks. In brief, the soil filling procedure and angled positioning of rhizoboxes during root system development influences the degree of roots visible at transparent front plates. Continue reading on root box angles.
See the pages on (hydroponic) rhizoboxes, racks and cooling racks for further references regarding root boxes and theier operation.