Measurement and Modeling of Radiation and Water Fluxes in Plantation Forests

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An increasing number of experimental studies attempt to maximize biomass production of trees in plantations by removing nutrient and water limitations. The results from these studies begin to inform operational managers. We investigated a Populus trichocarpa Torr. x P. deltoides Bartr. & Marsh plantation with a combined irrigation and nutrient supply system designed to optimize biomass production. Sap flux density was measured continuously over four of the six growing season months, supplemented with periodic measurements of leaf gas exchange and water potential. Measurements of tree diameter and height were used to estimate leaf area and biomass production using allometric relations. Sap flux was converted to canopy conductance, and analyzed based on an empirical model to isolate the effects of water limitation. Actual and soil water-unlimited potential CO2 uptakes were estimated using a Canopy Conductance Constrained Carbon Assimilation (4C-A) scheme, which couples actual or potential canopy conductance with vertical gradients of light distribution, leaf-level conductance, maximum Rubisco capacity (Vcmax) and maximum electron transport (Jmax). Net primary production (NPP) was ~0.43 of gross primary production (GPP); when estimated for individual trees, this ratio was independent of tree size. Based on the same ratio, we found that current irrigation reduced growth by ~18 % compare to growth with no water limitation. To achieve this maximum growth, however, would require 70% more water for transpiration, and would reduce water use efficiency by 27 %, from 1.57 to 1.15 g stem wood C kg-1 water. Given the economic and social values of water, plantation managers appear to have optimized water use.






Kim, Hyun-Seok (2009). Measurement and Modeling of Radiation and Water Fluxes in Plantation Forests. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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