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Combining eddy covariance measurements with process-based modelling to enhance understanding of carbon exchange rates of dairy pastures

Abstract : Many temperate grasslands are used for dairying, and ongoing research aims to better understand these systems in order to increase animal production and soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks. However, it is difficult to fully understand management effects on SOC because most changes are slow and difficult to distinguish from natural variability, even if changes are important over years to decades. Eddy covariance (EC) measurements can overcome this problem by continuously measuring net carbon exchange from pastures, but net balances are very sensitive to even small systematic measurement errors. Combining EC measurements with detailed process-based modelling can reduce the risks inherent in total reliance on EC measurements. Modelling can also reveal information about the underlying processes that drive observed fluxes. Here, we describe carbon exchange patterns of five paddocks situated at four different locations in New Zealand and France where EC data and detailed physiological modelling were available. The work showed that respiration by grazing animals was often only incompletely captured in EC measurements. This was most problematic when fluxes were based on gap-filling, which could have estimated incorrect fluxes during grazing periods based on observations from periods without grazing. We then aimed to extract plant physiological insights from these studies. We found appreciable carbon uptake rates even at temperatures below 0 degrees C. After grazing, carbon uptake was reduced for up to 2 weeks. This reduction was larger than expected from reduced leaf area after grazing, but the factors contributing to that difference have not yet been identified. Detailed physiological models can also extrapolate findings to new management regimes, environmental conditions or plant attributes. This overcomes the limitation of experimental studies, which are necessarily restricted to actual site and weather conditions allowing models to make further progress on predicting management effects on SOC.
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Submitted on : Saturday, February 27, 2021 - 12:13:15 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, June 17, 2021 - 3:11:13 AM

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Miko U.F. Kirschbaum, Nicolas J.B. Puche, Donna Giltrap, Lìyǐn Liáng, Abad Chabbi. Combining eddy covariance measurements with process-based modelling to enhance understanding of carbon exchange rates of dairy pastures. Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier, 2020, 745, pp.140917. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140917⟩. ⟨hal-03154147⟩



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