Root Washer. Separating roots from mineral soil cores by hand is a laborious and costly process. The hydropneumatic root elutriator ("root washer"), build by Gillison's and used for decades in multiple North American research institutions, can semi-automate the job - significantly speeding up the process and reducing labor costs. In the Root Washer system, a combination of hydraulic and pneumatic systems ("hydropneumatic") elutriate the roots from the soil while an electric timer controls the washing process. The extruded steel frame of the elutriator serves a dual purpose; structural support and transport of water and compressed air. Water is transported in the lower portion and air in the upper portion of the hollow interior of the extruded steel frame. They exit the frame in polyethylene tubes that extend to the bottom of the elutriator tubes ("washing chambers"). Soil samples with roots are placed in the tubes of the elutration washing system and the roots float to a sieve system at the top for collection. Washed out soil is occasionally collected from the lower settling basin, greatly reducing the risk of clogged drains, and the water is discharged to any sink. Different sieve diameters (210 µm, 297 µm, 350 µm, 500 µm and 1000 µm for clay to sand) and washing times (e.g. 3-12 minutes) can be combined to determine optimized washing cycles for different soil x root types (see below).
The semi-automated elutriation system / root washer is available for rinsing 4 or 8 soil cores / root samples in parallel; the unit for 8 soil samples can be designed as a corner unit (see figure). Please get in contact to discuss how the versatile root washer system can speed up your root washing tasks.
Customer must provide for root washer operation: Water (tap water, or tank with pump), compressed air (bottled, or compressor), & electricity (110-240V).
Please provide us with your facility layout/specs to help us set up the water & air connections, drains, etc. - in order to begin using the Root Washer immediately upon receipt.
Original publication: Smucker, A.J.M., McBurney, S.L., & Srivastava, A.K. (1982). Quantitative separation of roots from compacted soil profiles by the hydropneumatic elutriation system. Agronomy Journal, 74(3), 500-503.
*Common water pressure in Vienna e.g. 0.5 MPa - more than sufficient. Contact your local water supplier, or use a pump system + tank filled with rain or groundwater for washing.
Table 1. Typical wash times for each soil type. These times may vary depending on the amount of organic matter, clay type, plant root density and degree of soil compaction.
|Soil Texture||Approx. Washing Time [min]|
|Clay||12 (If soil clay content is greater than ~50%, samples should be soaked in water overnight for best elutriation.)|