Eddy Covariance Systems for Water Management Research and Agroecosystem Monitoring

Author(s): Sui, R.; Reddy, K.; Anapalli, S.; Murrell, C.

There is around 1300 mm of annual precipitation in Mississippi. However, uncertainty in amount and timing of precipitation during the crop growing season becomes a serious risk to Mississippi producers. To reduce the risk and optimize crop yield, the producers have become reliant on irrigation. In recent years, irrigated acreage is rapidly increasing in Mississippi. Almost all irrigation water in this region is pumped from the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer, and excessive withdrawals of underground water have resulted the level of the aquifer declining. Novel irrigation techniques and tools are needed for improving water use efficiency to maintain Mississippi water resource sustainability. Eddy covariance (EC) method is capable of measuring exchanges of carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, and energy between the surface of the earth and the atmosphere. Eddy covariance systems have been widely used for monitoring agroecosystems and measuring crop evapotranspiration (ET) for irrigation scheduling. Objectives of this project were to use EC systems to monitor the agroecosystem and measure evapotranspiration for research on water management technologies and agroecosystem assessment. Three EC systems were set up in the Mississippi Delta for agroecosystem monitoring and assessment, and evapotranspiration (ET) measurement. One EC system is located in Stoneville, MS and two others in Arcola, MS. The EC system consisted of a CH4 analyzer for measuring methane gas flux, CO2/H2O analyzer for measuring carbon dioxide and water vapor fluxes, three-dimensional sonic anemometer for determining wind speed in three dimensions, and biomet (biological & meteorological) sensors to collect ancillary data for filling measurement gaps and interpreting flux results. Installation and preliminary field tests of the EC systems have been completed. The systems are being used to collect data for research on water management technologies and climate change impact on agroecosystems in the Mississippi Delta.

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