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Carbon dioxide levels in the plant microenvironment as influenced by a poly-coated paper mulch




Tarter, Cheryl K., author
Moore, Frank D., III, advisor
Wallner, Stephen J., committee member
Smith, D. D., committee member

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Effectiveness of carbon dioxide (CO2) enrichment using a polyethylene coated black paper mulch, incorporated nitrogen and wheat straw particles, and field CO2 release was investigated. A mulch covering or mulch over incorporated plant residue, such as straw, has been suggested as a possible means of CO2 enrichment which results from trapping the CO2 evolved from the soil. This idea was tested using Great Lakes Mesa 659 lettuce seedlings in growth chambers and in an outdoor setting. Carbon dioxide concentrations at the base of the plants and at a 5 cm depth in the root zone were greater in mulched and mulched straw treatments. Non-mulched straw did not increase surface CO2 concentrations. Growth of mulched plants in the chambers was approximately 80% greater than that of non-mulched plants. Mulched plants in the outdoor study had a growth increase of about 13% when compared to non-mulched plants. Increases in growth of mulched plants were attributed to greater CO2 levels, since soil moisture levels and temperatures were similar in all treatments. Straw suppressed growth and would not be recommended as a CO2 source. Mulch applied over CO2 release lines in the field was found to be an effective means of CO2 enrichment of a lettuce canopy by creating a physical barrier to rapid air exchange, thereby concentrating released CO2 under the mulch. Mulch over a release line more than tripled CO2 concentrations near the soil surface when compared to CO2 release with no mulch covering or CO2 supplement. Significant enrichment levels were maintained to 25 cm above the soil surface on still days by means of a mulched CO2 release line. Subsurface CO2 concentrations were increased by the application of mulch and averaged 857 ppm which was considered non-phytotoxic. The effect on soil CO2 levels from the release line was negligible. Inconclusive results in plant response suggest further study is warranted.


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Plants -- Effect of carbon dioxide on


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