• This study evaluates a novel method for extracting roots from soil samples and applies it to estimate standing crop root mass (± confidence intervals) in an eastern Amazon rainforest. • Roots were manually extracted from soil cores over a period of 40 min, which was split into 10 min time intervals. The pattern of cumulative extraction over time was used to predict root extraction beyond 40 min. A maximum-likelihood approach was used to calculate confidence intervals. • The temporal prediction method added 21– 32% to initial estimates of standing crop root mass. According to predictions, complete manual root extraction from 18 samples would have taken c. 239 h, compared with 12 h using the prediction method. Uncertainties (percentage difference between mean, and 10th and 90th percentiles) introduced by the prediction method were small (12–15%), compared with uncertainties caused by spatial variation in root mass (72–191%, for nine samples per plot surveyed). • This method provides a way of increasing the number of root samples processed per unit time, without compromising measurement accuracy.
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