Double exponential model describes decay of hybrid Bermudagrass thatch

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Courtesy of Soil Science Society of America

Empirical modeling helps understand decay processes. The objective of this research was to find a suitable model, and then use it to describe decay of thatch from hybrid bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. x Cynodon transvaalensis Burtt-Davy]. The carbon dioxide–carbon released from ‘Tifdwarf’ and ‘Tifeagle’, each 24 h over 20 d, was plotted as percent C remaining vs. time. Four empirical models were fit to these data to determine which one best minimized residual sum of squares. The model best meeting this condition was the four-parameter double exponential model. Of the models tested, it was the only one to pass all tests for normally distributed population, constant variance, and independence of residuals. Fitting this model to percent C remaining data identified two C pools for each cultivar, a fast pool and a slow pool, with differing sizes and rate constants. Fast-pool turnover times were similar. Slow-pool turnover times differed, with Tifdwarf decaying faster than Tifeagle, which may have been a function of Tifeagle having a higher stolon mass with more lignin and a wider C:N. When data were corrected for microbial growth efficiency, slow-pool turnover times decreased. This implied cultural practices that increase microbial growth efficiency may help convert slow pool into biomass, reduce slow-pool turnover times, and ultimately enhance the decay of thatch.

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