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T. B. Parkin, T. C. Kaspar, Z. Senwo, J. H. Prueger, and J. L. Hatfield

Abstract

Soil respiration is an important component of the carbon dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems. Many factors exert controls on soil respiration, including temperature, soil water content, organic matter, soil texture, and plant root activity. This study was conducted to quantify soil respiration in the Walnut Creek watershed in central Iowa, and to investigate the factors controlling this process. Six agricultural fields were identified for this investigation: three of the fields were cropped with soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] and three were cropped with corn (Zea mays L.). Within each field, soil respiration was measured at nine locations, with each location corresponding to one of three general landscape positions (summit, side slope, and depression). Soil respiration was measured using a portable vented chamber connected to an infrared gas analyzer. Soil samples were collected at each location for the measurement of soil water content, pH, texture, microbial biomass, and respiration potential. Field respiration rates did not show a significant landscape effect. However, there was a significant crop effect, with respiration from cornfields averaging 37.5 g CO2 m−2 day−1 versus an average respiration of 13.1 g CO2 m−2 day−1 in soybean fields. In contrast, laboratory measurements of soil respiration potential, which did not include plant roots, showed a significant landscape effect and an insignificant cropping system effect. Similar relationships were observed for soil organic C and microbial biomass. Additional analyses indicate that corn roots may be more important than soybean roots in their contribution to surface CO2 flux, and that root respiration masked landscape effects on total soil respiration. Also, the failure to account for soil respiration may lead to biased estimates of net primary production measured by eddy covariance.

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J. H. Prueger, J. L. Hatfield, T. B. Parkin, W. P. Kustas, L. E. Hipps, C. M. U. Neale, J. I. MacPherson, W. E. Eichinger, and D. I. Cooper

Abstract

A network of eddy covariance (EC) and micrometeorological flux (METFLUX) stations over corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] canopies was established as part of the Soil Moisture–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment (SMACEX) in central Iowa during the summer of 2002 to measure fluxes of heat, water vapor, and carbon dioxide (CO2) during the growing season. Additionally, EC measurements of water vapor and CO2 fluxes from an aircraft platform complemented the tower-based measurements. Sensible heat, water vapor, and CO2 fluxes showed the greatest spatial and temporal variability during the early crop growth stage. Differences in all of the energy balance components were detectable between corn and soybean as well as within similar crops throughout the study period. Tower network–averaged fluxes of sensible heat, water vapor, and CO2 were observed to be in good agreement with area-averaged aircraft flux measurements.

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