Tim Kivi wrote:I've read elsewhere that a toxic chemical is released if roots are left in the ground when a plant or tree is killed, no matter the variety.
Why would they say that? Obviously it challenges the chop and drop method. I always leave roots to die because I have heavy clay soil and need as much added organic matter in there as possible.
Τhen again there are those that say that even if you put fertilizer ,equilevant in weight to the weight of the dying root mass,you won;t have better results and its optimal to leave everything underground and don't interrupt the natural process. In any case everything is being neutralized in the ground,so i wouldn;t worry.You have decaying organic matter in the soil.
I'm curious as to where you read this and what background the person had in soil microbiology.
Why someone would say that has many possible answers, 1. they are just trying to scare people, 2. they want to get you to use chemicals instead of sound, organic methods, 3. they are totally clueless about how nature works, I'm sure there are other reasons but these three are probably at or near the top of that list.
If roots are not already in the process of exuding allopathic secretions at the time of death, they are not going to reflexively do so.
The internet seems to be a place for many people to spew their misinformation just to cause confusion, much like black hat hackers, they revel in creating havoc and chaos for others.
So how about some "scientific data about root systems":
Just because the above ground portion of a plant is cut off, doesn't always mean the root system dies immediately, there are many plants (deciduous trees, shrubs, etc. for example) that have root systems that will force new bud growth at the soil surface, this is how coppicing was discovered to be an effective method for wood production and harvesting for fire wood. Roots of living plants are always dying and new roots are always forming and growing, the root system of a plant can be thought of as similar to human hair follicles, the actual hair above the scalp is dead matter, cutting your hair does not stop the growth of the hair at the follicle. Plant roots that die begin the process of decomposition almost immediately, this occurs by many of the rhizosphere organisms beginning to feed on the now dead root material, the nutrients not used by these organisms is released into the surrounding soil and taken in by the living roots and recycled by the plant.
The root death rate sounds correct, this also happens to all the other fruit trees, conifers, and just about any other tree.
Vegetables also have a root death rate very close to this.
Most of these roots are what most know as "feeder" or "hair" roots, they function for a period of time then die because they have completed their life cycle.
If you were to cut a "main branch" root, the limb that root supplied would die or the part that was left attached would produce more branches and the feeder and hair roots which would mean the only portion of that branch that would die back would start at the growing tip and work back to the junction break,
the cut line back to the trunk would grow new roots.