Applicability of soil column incubation experiments to measure CO2 efflux

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Accurate measurements of CO2 efflux from soils are essential to understand dynamic changes in soil carbon storage. Column incubation experiments are commonly used to study soil water and solute transport; however, the use of column incubation experiments to study soil CO2 efflux has seldom been reported. In this study, a 150-day greenhouse experiment with two treatments (no-tillage and tillage soils) was conducted to evaluate the applicability of soil column incubation experiments to study CO2 efflux. Both the chamber measurement and the gradient method were used, and results from the two methods were consistent: tillage increased soil cumulative CO2 efflux during the incubation period. Compared with fieldwork, incubation experiments can create or precisely control experimental conditions and thus have advantages for investigating the influence of climate factors or human activities on CO2 efflux. They are superior to bottle incubation because soil column experiments maintain a soil structure that is almost the same as that in the field, and thus can facilitate analyses on CO2 behaviour in the soil profile and more accurate evaluations of CO2 efflux. Although some improvements are still required for column incubation experiments, wider application of this method to study soil CO2 behaviour is expected.

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The Journal of Institute of Agrophysics of Polish Academy of Sciences

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