Crop and Pasture Science Crop and Pasture Science Society
Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality

Australian grains free-air carbon dioxide enrichment (AGFACE) facility: design and performance

Mahabubur Mollah A D , Rob Norton B and Jeff Huzzey C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Primary Industries, 110 Natimuk Road, Private Bag 260, Horsham, Vic. 3402, Australia.

B The University of Melbourne, 110 Natimuk Road, Private Bag 260, Horsham, Vic. 3402, Australia.

C Land Technology Pty Ltd, 445 Smiths Road, Laharum, Vic. 3401, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Crop and Pasture Science 60(8) 697-707
Submitted: 10 October 2008  Accepted: 25 May 2009   Published: 5 August 2009


The AGFACE project commenced in June 2007 at Horsham (36°45′07″S, 142°06′52″E; 127 m elevation), Victoria, Australia. Its aim is to quantify the interactive effects of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration (e[CO2]), nitrogen, temperature (accomplished by early and late sowing times), and soil moisture on the growth, yield, and water use of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) under Australian conditions. The main engineering goal of the project was to maintain an even temporal and spatial distribution of carbon dioxide (CO2) at 550 μmol/mol within AGFACE rings containing the experimental treatments. Monitoring showed that e[CO2] at the ring-centres was maintained at or above 90% of the target (495 μmol/mol) between 93 and 98% of the operating time across the 8 rings and within ±10% of the target (495–605 μmol/mol) between 86 and 94% of the time. The carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) measured inside the rings declined non-linearly with increasing distance downwind of the CO2 source and differed by 3–13% in concentration between the two canopy heights in each ring, but was not affected by wind speed or small variations in [CO2] at the ring-centres. The median values for model-predicted concentrations within the inner 11-m-diameter portion of the rings (>80% of the ring area) varied between 524 and 871 μmol/mol but remained close to target near the centres. The design criteria adopted from existing pure CO2 fumigating FACE systems and new ideas incorporated in the AGFACE system provided a performance similar to its equivalent systems. This provides confidence in the results that will be generated from experiments using the AGFACE system.

Additional keywords: FACE, elevated CO2, climate change, wheat, Australia.


The project (UM00027) is funded by the Department of Climate Change, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI), The University of Melbourne, and BOC Limited. The authors acknowledge the invaluable technical support of Russel Argall, Janine Fitzpatrick, and Dennis Pye from DPI, and Peter Howie from the University of Melbourne. Authors also acknowledge the assistance of Will Pyke, Land Technology Pty Ltd, with the design and construction of AGFACE rings. Most of the statistical analysis was done by Jennifer Smith (former DPI employee). Debra Partington, Senior Biometrician, DPI, also assisted with the statistical analysis.


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