Belowground Plot Experiment

PBB02 Belowground Plot Experiment: Biomass and nutrient content of Rhizomes


To address the potential interactive effects of fire, aboveground biomass removal, and nutrient amendments on above- and belowground responses, a long-term field experiment was initiated in 1986 as part of the Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. The general goals of this experiment are: 1) to document both short- and long-term responses of plants and soils to fire, aboveground biomass removal (a surrogate for grazing in these small plots), and nutrient amendments (additions of N and/or P); and 2) to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying tallgrass prairie responses to fire, aboveground biomass removal and nutrient enrichment. Standing crops of live and dead rhizomes (0.1 sq. m2 * 20cm deep samples) are taken in late summer periodically from 64 belowground plots. N and P content are determined on live and dead rhizomes. N and P for forb rhizomes are available for some plots in some years.

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Monitor long-term changes in plant root production and nutrient balance due to the effect of annual burning, mowing, and nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization.


Location of Sampling Stations: HQC

Frequency of Sampling: Once every five years in August or September.

Variable Measured: Root biomass sorted by live, dead, or forbs; Total-N and total-P.

Methods: Two 5 cm diameter by 20 cm deep soil cores are sampled from each plot and combined. The roots are then washed, separated, and dried at 60oC. The dried material is then ground to pass a 2 mm screen and acid digested by the Kjedahl procedure. The solution is then analyzed for total-N and total-P by automated calorimetric analysis.

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