Soil temperature effects from minirhizotron lighting systems

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Observing root dynamics or soil fauna with minirhizotrons requires the use of incandescent or ultraviolet (UV) lighting systems. These light sources can generate heat which would be transferred to the surrounding soil adjacent to the minirhizotron observation tubes and thus may influence root growth and development or fauna activity. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of incandescent and UV light from a minirhizotron camera system on soil temperatures next to minirhizotron tubes. Temperature probes were attached next to and at 0.5 cm from the tube surface and the tubes were then placed in boxes with either a fine sand or a loamy clay soil. Incandescent light was operated stationary for 5 min or moved at 1 cm increments every 10 s down the tube for both dry and wet soils. The UV light was used in a stationary position for 10 minutes in both dry soils. Maximum temperature increases were 3.41–3.52 °C and 1.69–2.14 °C next to the tube for the dry and wet soils, respectively with 5 min of stationary incandescent light. Ultraviolet lights increased soil temperatures to a maximum of approximately 2.5 °C in the dry soil. Probes placed 0.5 cm from the tube surface also showed temperature increases up to 2.15 °C. Moving the light source every 10 s, however, resulted in lower temperature increases (<0.8 °C). Therefore short durations of light resulted in small temperature increases suggesting minimal impact on root development. Increased soil temperatures from longer durations of light, however, may alter root growth and development as well as soil fauna activity and warrants further study.

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