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Determining Trace Gas Efflux from Container Production of Woody Nursery Crops

Marble, S. Christopher, Prior, Stephen A., Runion, G. Brett, Torbert, H. Allen, Gilliam, Charles H., Fain, Glenn B., Sibley, Jeff L., Knight, Patricia R.
Journal of Environmental Horticulture 2012 v.30 no.3 pp. 118-124
Ilex vomitoria, carbon dioxide, climate change, container-grown plants, containers, environmental impact, gas production (biological), greenhouse gas emissions, horticultural products industry, horticulture, methane, methane production, nitrous oxide, nursery crops, specialty crops, temperature, uncertainty
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 CO(2) , CH(4) , and N(2)O associated with four different nursery container sizes [3.0 liter (trade gal; TG), 3.8 liter (#1; 1 gal), 7.6 liter (#2; 2 gal), and 11.4 liter (#3; 3 gal) using dwarf yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria ‘Nana’ L.) grown under common production practices for one year. Weekly measurements indicated that carbon dioxide (CO(2)) and nitrous oxide (N(2)O) fluxes were highest in the largest containers (#3). There was a significant positive relationship between container size and CO(2) efflux. Nitrous oxide efflux followed a similar pattern, except there were no differences between the two smallest container sizes. In general, CO(2) and N(2)O 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.