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ZALF develops low-cost measurement system for worldwide use

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Gruppenfoto bei Einsatz des Messsystems in Ghana

Researchers at ZALF have developed a low-cost instrument for agricultural research to measure carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes and evaporation from plant and soil surfaces. The device will help fill data gaps on greenhouse gas emissions and water use efficiency in agriculture.

To address the global climate crisis, it is essential to find agricultural practices that not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also make water use more efficient. Collecting reliable data on carbon dioxide flux and evapotranspiration, the total amount of evaporation from the vegetated soil surface in agricultural systems, is critical to achieving this goal.

However, commercial instruments for measuring CO2 flux and evapotranspiration are often expensive, making it difficult to study agricultural systems for their emissions. This is even more the case for agricultural systems in the Global South, where access to appropriate measurement equipment is limited. For this reason, scientists at ZALF have developed a low-cost device that, in combination with a manually operated closed chamber, allows accurate measurements of CO₂ and evapotranspiration fluxes.

The low-cost device was tested in laboratory and field trials in Germany and Ghana and showed consistently reliable results, even over long periods of time and under high temperatures, humidity and precipitation. As a result, this device has the potential to fill existing data gaps on a global scale and democratize access to greenhouse gas measurement technology.

The field trials in Ghana and Benin were funded by WASCAL (West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use). The development and laboratory tests were funded by the BMEL research project Reprising.

For more information, please contact the authors.


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© Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung (ZALF) e. V. Müncheberg

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