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Open AccessArticle

The Influence of a Water Absorbing Geocomposite on Soil Water Retention and Soil Matric Potential

1
Institute of Environmental Engineering, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, 50-363 Wroclaw, Poland
2
Institute of Building Engineering, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, 50-363 Wroclaw, Poland
3
Institute of Soil Sciences and Environmental Protection, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, 50-357 Wroclaw, Poland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(8), 1731; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11081731
Received: 7 July 2019 / Revised: 16 August 2019 / Accepted: 18 August 2019 / Published: 20 August 2019
Climate change induces droughts that are becoming more intensive and more frequent than ever before. Most of the available forecast tools predict a further significant increase in the risk of drought, which indicates the need to prepare solutions to mitigate its effects. Growing water scarcity is now one of the world’s leading challenges. In agriculture and environmental engineering, in order to increase soil water retention, soil additives are used. In this study, the influence of a newly developed water absorbing geocomposite (WAG) on soil water retention and soil matric potential was analyzed. WAG is a special element made from geotextile which is wrapped around a synthetic skeleton with a superabsorbent polymer placed inside. To describe WAG’s influence on soil water retention and soil matric potential, coarse sand, loamy sand, and sandy loam soils were used. WAG in the form of a mat was used in the study as a treatment. Three kinds of samples were prepared for every soil type. Control samples and samples with WAG treatment placed at depths of 10 cm and 20 cm were examined in a test container of 105 × 70 × 50 cm dimensions. The samples had been watered and drained, and afterwards, the soil surface was heated by lamps of 1100 W total power constantly for 72 h. Soil matric potential was measured by Irrometer field tensiometers at three depths. Soil moisture content was recorded at six depths: of 5, 9, 15, 19, 25, and 30 cm under the top of the soil surface with time-domain reflectometry (TDR) measurement devices. The values of soil moisture content and soil matric potential were collected in one-minute steps, and analyzed in 24-h-long time steps: 24, 48, and 72 h. The samples with the WAG treatment lost more water than the control samples. Similarly, lower soil matric potential was noted in the samples with the WAG than in the control samples. However, after taking into account the water retained in the WAG, it appeared that the samples with the WAG had more water easily available for plants than the control samples. It was found that the mechanism of a capillary barrier affected higher water loss from soil layers above those where the WAG had been placed. The obtained results of water loss depend on the soil type used in the profile. View Full-Text
Keywords: water; water absorbing geocomposite; water soil retention; soil additives; geosynthetics; soil matric potential; superabsorbent polymers; water scarcity water; water absorbing geocomposite; water soil retention; soil additives; geosynthetics; soil matric potential; superabsorbent polymers; water scarcity
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Śpitalniak, M.; Lejcuś, K.; Dąbrowska, J.; Garlikowski, D.; Bogacz, A. The Influence of a Water Absorbing Geocomposite on Soil Water Retention and Soil Matric Potential. Water 2019, 11, 1731.

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