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Title: Surface soil water dynamics in pastures in northern New South Wales: 3. Evapotranspiration
Contributor(s): Murphy, Sean (author); Lodge, Gregory Mark (author); Harden, S (author)
Publication Date: 2004
DOI: 10.1071/EA03041
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Abstract: Evapotranspiration is the major component of the hydrological balance of grazed pastures on the North-West Slopes of New South Wales, representing up to 93% of annual rainfall. Nearly 80% of evapotranspiration may occur as bare soil evaporation, however, representing water not available for plant growth. Few studies have reported daily values of actual evapotranspiration for pastures, particularly in northern New South Wales. The studies reported here were conducted to measure actual evapotranspiration using an evaporation dome technique, for plots with a range of pasture, litter and ground cover. Measurements were taken in each season between autumn 2000 and autumn 2001, with both wet and dry soil surface conditions, to document the range of values that might be expected. Similar measurements were conducted in areas of natural pasture, to quantify values under grazed conditions. A range of other variables were also quantified in association with each evapotranspiration measurement; these included components of net radiant energy, atmospheric conditions, pasture physical characteristics, ground cover and soil water content. These data were used to identify the most important variables, which may be influenced by or interact with grazing management, that account for variation in daily evapotranspiration values. Hourly evapotranspiration ranged from 0.02 to 0.82 mm/h and daily values ranged from 0.2 to 7.6 mm/day, in winter to summer, respectively. Linear regression models that included variables of solar radiation, herbage mass, vapour pressure deficit and soil water content accounted for up to 93% of the variation in daily evapotranspiration values. These models predicted that high litter mass (3000 kg DM/ha) may reduce evaporation by up to 1 mm/day for wet soils, making a substantial contribution to the annual hydrological balance. A simulation study of a grazed pasture, using the Sustainable Grazing Systems Pasture Model, indicated that grazing management may influence the partitioning of transpiration and evaporation from canopy, litter and bare soil. With rotational grazing, predicted soil evaporation was lower and transpiration and canopy evaporation were higher than with continuous grazing. Hence, pastures may require different management between summer and winter, so that bare soil evaporation and canopy interception losses are minimised, to maximise stored soil water available for pasture use. Pastures with lower evaporative losses are likely to have higher productivity and sustainability.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 44(6), p. 571-583
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Melbourne, Australia
ISSN: 0816-1089
Field of Research (FOR): 050305 Soil Physics
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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