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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 39 No. 2, p. 596-608
    Received: May 13, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): steve.prior@ars.usda.gov
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Elevated Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Effects on Soybean and Sorghum Gas Exchange in Conventional and No-Tillage Systems

  1. S. A. Prior *,
  2. G. B. Runion,
  3. H. H. Rogers and
  4. F. J. Arriaga
  1. USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Lab., 411 South Donahue Dr., Auburn, AL 36832. Names are necessary to report factually on available data; however, USDA does not guarantee or warrant the standard of the production. The use of the name by the USDA implies no approval of the product to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. Assigned to Associate Editor Pierre-Andre Jacinthe


Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration has led to concerns about potential effects on production agriculture. In the fall of 1997, a study was initiated to compare the response of two crop management systems (conventional tillage and no-tillage) to elevated CO2 The study used a split-plot design replicated three times with two management systems as main plots and two atmospheric CO2 levels (ambient and twice ambient) as split plots using open-top chambers on a Decatur silt loam soil (clayey, kaolinitic, thermic Rhodic Paleudults). The conventional system was a grain sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench.] and soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] rotation with winter fallow and spring tillage practices. In the no-tillage system, sorghum and soybean were rotated, and three cover crops were used [crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.), sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea L.), and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)]. Over multiple growing seasons, the effect of management and CO2 concentration on leaf-level gas exchange during row crop (soybean in 1999, 2001, and 2003; sorghum in 2000, 2002, and 2004) reproductive growth were evaluated. Treatment effects were fairly consistent across years. In general, higher photosynthetic rates were observed under CO2 enrichment (more so with soybean) regardless of residue management practice. Elevated CO2 led to decreases in stomatal conductance and transpiration, which resulted in increased water use efficiency. The effects of management system on gas exchange measurements were infrequently significant, as were interactions of CO2 and management. These results suggest that better soil moisture conservation and high rates of photosynthesis can occur in both tillage systems in CO2–enriched environments during reproductive growth.

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