Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is predicted to rise above 550 ppm (parts per million) within this century. CO2 is the direct substrate of photosynthesis - the process by which green plants fix solar energy and produce biomass. Increasing concentrations stimulate plant growth and the process is often referred to as the "fertilisation effect". To successfully adapt crop production practices and agro-ecosystem management in the face of increasing CO2, plant production must be studied in a range of environments under field conditions.
What is FACE and AGFACE?
The Australian Grains Free Air CO2 Enrichment (AGFACE) facility enables the exposure of field grown crops to elevated CO2 levels under dryland field conditions.
The FACE (Free Air CO2 Enrichment) technique is used internationally at more than 30 sites, investigating a multitude of ecosystems including cropping systems, pastures, and forests.
AGFACE is a collaborative effort by the partner organisations of PICCC - Agriculture Victoria and the University of Melbourne. It is also supported by funding from the Grains Research and Development Corporation, the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Australian Research Council.
During its first phase (2007-2014), AGFACE research focused on yield, grain quality and disease responses to elevated CO2. The research team is now concentrating on increasing understanding of elevated CO2 impacts on water and nitrogen resource use and grain yield and quality as well as disease response, so that growers can capitalise on the “fertilisation effect” without the negative impacts on grain protein and micronutrients.