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  • Author or Editor: G.J. Kluitenberg x
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Research was conducted to determine the optical properties of eight plastic mulches and evaluate their effects on soil, mulch, and air temperatures in the field. Optical properties of the mulches were measured in the laboratory in the shortwave (0.3 to 1.1 μm) and longwave (2.5 to 25 μm) wavebands using a spectroradiometer and Fourier transform infrared spectrophotometer, respectively. Additionally, each mulch was installed on a fine sandy loam soil near Manhattan, Kan. Air and soil temperatures were measured 5 cm above and 10 cm below the surface, respectively. Measurements of longwave radiation emitted and reflected from the surface were used to approximate the apparent temperature of the surface. Shortwave transmittance of the mulches ranged from 0.01 to 0.84, and shortwave reflectance ranged from 0.01 to 0.48, with the greatest reflectance from white and aluminized mulches. Infrared transmittance ranged from 0.87 for a black photodegradable mulch to 0.09 for aluminized material. Air temperatures at 5 cm were similar for all mulch treatments, but were typically 3 to 5C higher than the air at 1.5 m during the day. Midday soil temperatures were highest beneath mulches with high shortwave absorptance (black plastics) or those with high shortwave transmittance coupled with low longwave transmittance. Apparent surface temperatures approached 70 to 80C during midday, with the highest temperatures occurring on mulches with high shortwave absorptance. For some mulches, both, shortwave and longwave optical properties of the plastic governed the level of radiative heating. Our results suggest that conduction of heat between the plastic and the soil surface also affects the extent of soil heating in a mulched field.

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Measurements of soil water content near the soil surface often are required for efficient turfgrass water management. Experiments were conducted in a greenhouse to determine if the dual-probe heat-pulse (DPHP) technique can be used to monitor changes in soil volumetric water content (θv) and turfgrass water use. `Kentucky 31' Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) was planted in 20-cm-diameter containers packed with Haynie sandy loam (coarse-silty, mixed, calcareous, mesic Typic Udifluvents). Water content was measured with the DPHP sensors that were placed horizontally at different depths between 1.5 and 14.4 cm from the surface in the soil column. Water content also was monitored gravimetrically from changes in container mass. Measurements started when the soil surface was covered completely by tall fescue. Hence, changes in θv could be attributed entirely to water being taken up by roots of tall fescue. Daily measurements were taken over multiple 6- or 7-day drying cycles. Each drying cycle was preceded by an irrigation, and free drainage had ceased before measurements were initiated. Soil water content dropped from ≈0.35 to 0.10 m3·m-3 during each drying cycle. Correlation was excellent between θv and changes in water content determined by the DPHP and gravimetric methods. Comparisons with the gravimetric method showed that the DPHP sensors could measure average container θv within 0.03 m3·m-3 and changes in soil water content within 0.01 m3·m-3.

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