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Open AccessArticle

Influence of Living and Dead Roots of Gansu Poplar on Water Infiltration and Distribution in Soil

by Dashuai Zhang 1,2, Yao Dai 1,2, Lingli Wang 3,4 and Liang Chen 1,2,*
1
State Key Laboratory of Hydraulic Engineering Simulation and Safety, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China
2
School of Civil Engineering, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China
3
School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China
4
Sinomine Rock and Mineral Analysis (Tianjin) Co. Ltd., Tianjin 300270, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(10), 3593; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10103593
Received: 18 April 2020 / Revised: 19 May 2020 / Accepted: 20 May 2020 / Published: 22 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Solutions in Soil and Water Conservation)
During rapid urbanization, it is necessary to increase soil permeability and soil porosity for reducing urban runoff and waterlogging risk. Woody plants are known to increase soil porosity and preferential flow in soil via living roots growth and dead roots decay. However, the primary results of dead woody plant roots on soil porosity and permeability have been discussed based only on the hypotheses or assumptions of different researchers. In this study, living and dead roots (decayed under natural conditions for more than 5 years) of Gansu poplar trees (Populus gansuensis) were selected. They were selected to compare the influence between living and dead roots on water infiltration rate and soil porosity in a cylindrical container (diameter = 20 cm, height = 66 cm) under laboratory conditions. Results indicated that the steady-state water fluxes at the bottom of the containers without roots (control), with living roots, and with dead roots were 54.75 ± 0.80, 61.31 ± 0.61, and 55.97 ± 0.59 cm d−1, respectively. Both living roots and dead roots increased the water infiltration rates in soil and also increased the water storage capacity of soil. The water storage capacities of soil without roots, with living roots, and with dead roots were 0.279, 0.317, and 0.322 cm3 cm−3, respectively. The results from SEM indicated that smaller pores (30–50 μm) were in living roots and larger pores (100–1000 μm) were in dead roots. The soil permeability was increased by living roots possibly due to the larger channels generated on the surface of the roots; however, water absorbed into the dead roots resulted in greater water storage capacity. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil permeability; soil porosity; water storage capacity; woody plant; desert poplar; Populus gansuensis soil permeability; soil porosity; water storage capacity; woody plant; desert poplar; Populus gansuensis
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zhang, D.; Dai, Y.; Wang, L.; Chen, L. Influence of Living and Dead Roots of Gansu Poplar on Water Infiltration and Distribution in Soil. Appl. Sci. 2020, 10, 3593.

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