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Qualitative and quantitative characterization of volatile organic compound emissions from cut grass

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Mechanical wounding of plants triggers the release of a blend of reactive biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs). During and after mowing and harvesting of managed grasslands, significant BVOC emissions have the potential to alter the physical and chemical properties of the atmosphere and lead to ozone and aerosol formation with consequences for regional air quality. We show that the amount and composition of BVOCs emitted per unit dry weight of plant material is comparable between laboratory enclosure measurements of artificially severed grassland plant species and in situ ecosystem-scale flux measurements above a temperate mountain grassland during and after periodic mowing and harvesting. The investigated grassland ecosystem emitted annually up to 130 mg carbon m2 in response to cutting and drying, the largest part being consistently represented by methanol and a blend of green leaf volatiles (GLV). In addition, we report the plant species-specific emission of furfural, terpenoid-like compounds (e.g., camphor), and sesquiterpenes from cut plant material, which may be used as tracers for the presence of given plant species in the ecosystem.
Journal: Environmental Science and Technology
ISSN: 0013-936X
Volume: 46
Pages: 3859 - 3865
Publication year:2012