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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Enabling Management Response of Southeastern Agricultural Crop and Pasture Systems to Climate Change

Location: National Soil Dynamics Laboratory

Title: Sour orange fine root distribution after seventeen years of atmospheric CO2 enrichment

Authors
item PRIOR, STEPHEN
item RUNION, GEORGE
item TORBERT, HENRY
item Idso, S -
item KIMBALL, BRUCE

Submitted to: Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 17, 2012
Publication Date: May 10, 2012
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/54363
Citation: Prior, S.A., Runion, G.B., Torbert III, H.A., Idso, S.B., Kimball, B.A. 2012. Sour orange fine root distribution after seventeen years of atmospheric CO2 enrichment. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 162-163:85-90.

Interpretive Summary: Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration may impact agriculture. This study examined root distribution patterns of sour orange trees (Citrus aurantium L.) exposed to ambient and elevated (ambient + 300 ppm) levels of atmospheric CO2 for 17 years; this was the longest CO2 study on record. Carbon dioxide enrichment increased overall fine root length and dry weight (35 - 40%) which occurred in the upper 30 cm of the soil profile (root length ~ 60%; root dry weight ~ 80%), but was not affected by distance from the tree (up to 2 m). These large root responses indicate that long-term citrus productivity can be enhanced by the rise in atmospheric CO2 when trees are grown under conditions of water and nutrient supply reflective of orchard conditions.

Technical Abstract: Belowground responses to CO2 enrichment remain understudied relative to aboveground parameters. Further, there is a paucity of information on the long-term effects of CO2 on tree species. Sour orange trees (Citrus aurantium L.), grown in an Avondale loam in Phoenix, AZ, were exposed to ambient and elevated (ambient + 300 ppm) levels of atmospheric CO2 for 17 years. At study termination, soil cores were collected to determine how long-term CO2 enrichment affected horizontal (0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 m from each tree) and vertical (0 - 105 cm in 15 cm increments) fine root dry weight and length distribution patterns. Overall, elevated CO2 increased both root length (35.6%) and root dry weight (39.1%) densities. There was no effect of CO2 concentration on horizontal root distribution patterns. However, significant CO2 by depth interactions were noted for both root length and root dry weight densities with differences occurring in the top two depths only. Elevated CO2 increased fine root length density by 64.5 and 57.2% at the 0 - 15 and 15 - 30 cm depth increments; respective increases for root dry weight density were 80.3 and 82.8%. These large responses occurred under water and nutrient supply reflective of orchard conditions and suggest that long-term citrus productivity can be enhanced under future levels of atmospheric CO2.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014