Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Published in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 149 (2009), pp. 2110–2119; doi: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2009.04.013 Copyright © 2009 Elsevier B.V. Used by permission.


Carbon dioxide fluxes are being measured in three maize-based agroecosystems in eastern Nebraska in an effort to better understand the potential for these systems to sequester carbon in the soil. Landscape-level fluxes of carbon, water and energy were measured using tower eddy covariance systems. In order to better understand the landscape-level results, measurements at smaller scales, using techniques promoted by John Norman, were made and scaled up to the landscape-level. Single leaf gas exchange properties (CO2 assimilation rate and stomatal conductance) and optical properties, direct and diffuse radiation incident on the canopy, and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) reflected and transmitted by the canopy were measured at regular intervals throughout the growing season. In addition, soil surface CO2 fluxes were measured using chamber techniques. From leaf measurements, the responses of net CO2 assimilation rate to relevant biophysical controlling factors were quantified. Single leaf gas exchange data were scaled up to the canopy level using a simple radiative model that considers direct beam and diffuse PAR penetration into the canopy. Canopy level photosynthesis was estimated, coupled with the soil surface CO2 fluxes, and compared to measured net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) values from the eddy covariance approach. Estimated values of canopy level absorbed PAR was also compared to measured values. The agreement between estimated and observed values increases our confidence in the measured carbon pools and fluxes in these agroecosystems and enhances our understanding of biophysical controls on carbon sequestration.