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Using a crop/soil simulation model and GIS techniques to assess methane emissions from rice fields in Asia. II. Model validation and sensitivity analysis

Matthews, R.B., Wassmann, R., Buendia, L.V., Knox, J.W.
Nutrient cycling in agroecosystems 2000 v.58 no.1/3 pp. 161-177
Oryza sativa, simulation models, geographic information systems, validity, biogeochemical cycles, biomass, roots, weight, crop yield, seasonal variation, root exudates, mortality, organic matter, soil amendments, crop residues, soil organic matter, rhizosphere, oxygen, soil air, oxidation, drainage, carbon nitrogen ratio, methane, emissions, methane production, root shoot ratio, Philippines, China
The MERES (Methane Emissions from Rice EcoSystems) simulation model was tested using experimental data from IRRI and Maligaya in the Philippines and from Hangzhou in China. There was good agreement between simulated and observed values of total aboveground biomass, root weight, grain yield, and seasonal methane (CH4) emissions. The importance of the contribution of the rice crop to CH4 emissions was highlighted. Rhizodeposition (root exudation and root death) was predicted to contribute about 380 kg C ha-1 of methanogenic substrate over the season, representing 37% of the total methanogenic substrate from all sources when no organic amendments were added. A further 225 kg C ha-1 (22%) was predicted to come from previous crop residues, giving a total of around 60% originating from the rice crop, with the remaining 41% coming from the humic fraction of the soil organic matter (SOM). Sensitivity analysis suggested that the parameter representing transmissivity to gaseous transfer per unit root length (lambda(r)) was important in determining seasonal CH4 emissions. As this transmissivity increased, more O2 was able to diffuse to the rhizosphere, so that CH4 production by methanogens was reduced and more CH4 was oxidized by methanotrophs. These effects outweighed the opposing influence of increased rate of transport of CH4 through the plant, so that the overall effect was to reduce the amount of CH4 emitted over the season. Varying the root-shoot ratio of the crop was predicted to have little effect on seasonal emissions, the increased rates of rhizodeposition being counteracted by the increased rates of O2 diffusion to the rhizosphere. Increasing the length of a midseason drainage period reduced CH4 emissions significantly, but periods longer than 6-7 d also decreased rice yields. Organic amendments with low C/N were predicted to be more beneficial, both in terms of enhancing crop yields and reducing CH4 emissions, even when the same amount of C was applied. This was due to higher rates of immobilization of C into microbial biomass, removing it temporarily as a methanogenic substrate.