Plant growth analysis: towards a synthesis of the classical and the functional approach



A method of calculating relative growth rates (RGR) and net assimilation rates is presented. The method is based on the fitting of a polynomial through the relative growth rate values calculated by the ‘classical’ approach rather than through the In-transformed plant weights as in the ‘functional’ method. Additional ways of reducing the harvest-to-harvest variation characteristic of the classical approach are discussed. The main advantages of the present approach over the functional one are: (1) The degree of the polynomial can be increased (within certain limits) without inducing spurious fluctuations in RGR. Thus, quite complex trends in RGR can be described. (2) There is little interference between RGR values in different parts of the experiment. The main advantages over the classical approach are: (1) The erratic fluctuations in RGR are dampened. (2) As frequent small harvests are allowed, the workload at each harvest can be diminished and a more reliable impression of ontogenetic drift in RGR can be obtained. (3) RGR is described by a continuous function, thus facilitating further calculations and compilations.