CONSERVATION SYSTEMS RESEARCH FOR IMPROVING ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AND PRODUCER PROFITABILITY
Location: National Soil Dynamics Laboratory
Title: Determining trace gas efflux from container production of woody nursery plants
Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Horticulture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 28, 2012
Publication Date: September 15, 2012
Citation: Marble, S.C., Prior, S.A., Runion, G.B., Torbert III, H.A., Gilliam, C.H., Fain, G.B., Sibley, J.L., Knight, P.R. 2012. Determining trace gas efflux from container production of woody nursery plants. Journal of Environmental Horticulture. 30(3):118-124..
Interpretive Summary: Agriculture production is a large contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Due to climate change concerns, scientists have investigated ways to reduce GHG emissions through altering agricultural practices. Past work has concentrated on row crops, forests, and animal production systems, with little attention given to specialty sectors such as container nurseries. In order to reduce emissions from the container nursery industry, baseline emission levels from common production practices must first be established. This study investigated efflux of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) from a woody landscape plant (dwarf yaupon holly) grown in four different common container sizes for one year. Results showed that CO2 and N2O emissions generally increased as container size increased, while CH4 emissions were minimal throughout the study in all container sizes evaluated. These results begin to provide baseline data needed to determine the environmental impact of the container nursery industry on climate change.
In recent years, climate change and its effects on the global environment has garnered significant attention from the scientific community. Increased trace gas emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are widely believed to be the driving force behind global warming. Agriculture is a large contributor of trace gas emissions and much of the work on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has focused on row crops and pastures, as well as forestry and animal production systems; however, little emphasis has been placed on specialty crop industries such as horticulture. Our objective was to determine efflux patterns of CO2, CH4, and N2O associated with four different nursery container sizes [3.0 L (trade gal; TG), 3.8 L (#1; 1 gal), 7.6 L (#2; 2 gal), and 11.4 L (#3; 3 gal) using dwarf yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria ‘Nana’ L.) grown under common production practices for one year. Weekly measurements indicated that CO2 and N2O fluxes were highest in the largest containers (#3). There was a significant positive relationship between container size and CO2 efflux. Nitrous oxide efflux followed a similar pattern, except there were no differences between the two smallest container sizes. In general, CO2 and N2O fluxes increased with increasing temperature. Methane flux was consistently low and had no significant effect on total trace gas emissions. Results from this study begin to address uncertainties regarding the environmental impact of the horticulture industry on climate change while providing baseline data of trace gas emissions from container production systems needed to develop future mitigation strategies. [GRACEnet Publication]