Does vegetation affect the methane oxidation efficiency of passive biosystems?
Ndanga Mbakop, Éliane; Bradley, Robert L.; Cabral, Alexandre
SubjectLandfill final covers
Abstract: It is often reported in the technical literature that the presence of vegetation improves the methane oxidation efficiency of biosystems; however, the phenomena involved and biosystem performance results are still poorly documented, particularly in the field. This triggered a study to assess the importance of vegetation in methane oxidation efficiency (MOE). In this study, 4 large scale columns, each filled with sand, topsoil and a mixture of compost and topsoil were tested under controlled conditions in the laboratory and partially controlled conditions in the field. Four series of laboratory tests and two series of field tests were performed. 4 different plant covers were tested for each series: Trifolium repens L. (White clover), Phleum pratense L. (Timothy grass), a mixture of both, and bare soil as the control biosystem. The study results indicated that up to a loading equal to 100 g CH4/m2/d, the type of plant cover did not influence the oxidation rates, and the MOE was quite high (⩾95%) in all columns. Beyond this point, the oxidation rate continued to increase, reaching 253 and 179 g CH4/m2/d in laboratory and field tests respectively. In the end, the bare soil achieved as high or higher MOEs than vegetated biosystems. Despite the fact that the findings of this study cannot be generalized to other types of biosystems and plants and that the vegetation types tested were not fully grown, it was shown that for the short-term tests performed and the types of substrates and plants used herein, vegetation does not seem to be a key factor for enhancing biosystem performance. This key conclusion does not corroborate the conclusion of the relatively few studies published in the technical literature assessing the importance of vegetation in MOE.
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