Pitacco - Micrometeorological techniques to quantify energy, carbon and water vapour fluxes in orchard systems

Andrea Pitacco
Dipartimento di Agronomia Ambientale e Produzioni Vegetali, Università di Padova, viale dell’Università 16, 35020 Legnaro (PD)

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Key words: micrometeorology, water balance, carbon balance, ecophysiology, eddy fluxes.

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Abstract

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Although not widely used in horticultural research, micrometeorological techniques are very useful tools to study energy, water vapour and carbon dioxide fluxes above vegetation. Compared to the more common, cuvette-based methods, a distinctive feature of these techniques is that they do not alter plant microenvironment at all. Thus, they are suitable for long-term monitoring of vegetation-atmosphere interaction, without affecting the radiation regime, ventilation, temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide experienced by plants. Additionally, they provide a quantitative measurement of key physiological processes, that is intrinsically properly scaled to the plot, averaging single leaves and plant in a common canopy flux. These techniques, developed on a long timespan, rely on solid physical basis, directly related to the conservation laws. However, they are still technical demanding, requiring special attention during maintenance and data processing. The most critical point, however, is related to the necessary features of the experimental plot, which must be homogeneous, large, and flat. These requirements may make their application difficult, in the context of orchards. Nonetheless, they could provide essential information on biogeochemical fluxes pertaining to managed vegetation.

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