Open Science Research Excellence

Open Science Index

Commenced in January 2007 Frequency: Monthly Edition: International Paper Count: 300

Determination of Soil Loss by Erosion in Different Land Covers Categories and Slope Classes in Bovilla Watershed, Tirana, Albania

As a sediment production mechanism, soil erosion is the main environmental threat to the Bovilla watershed, including the decline of water quality of the Bovilla reservoir that provides drinking water to Tirana city (the capital of Albania). Therefore, an experiment with 25 erosion plots for soil erosion monitoring has been set up since June 2017. The aim was to determine the soil loss on plot and watershed scale in Bovilla watershed (Tirana region) for implementation of soil and water protection measures or payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs. The results of erosion monitoring for the period June 2017 - May 2018 showed that the highest values of surface runoff were noted in bare land of 38829.91 liters on slope of 74% and the lowest values in forest land of 12840.6 liters on slope of 64% while the highest values of soil loss were found in bare land of 595.15 t/ha on slope of 62% and lowest values in forest land of 18.99 t/ha on slope of 64%. These values are much higher than the average rate of soil loss in the European Union (2.46 ton/ha/year). In the same sloping class, the soil loss was reduced from orchard or bare land to the forest land, and in the same category of land use, the soil loss increased with increasing land slope. It is necessary to conduct chemical analyses of sediments to determine the amount of chemical elements leached out of the soil and end up in the reservoir of Bovilla. It is concluded that PES programs should be implemented for rehabilitation of sub-watersheds Ranxe, Vilez and Zall-Bastar of the Bovilla watershed with valuable conservation practices.

The Use of Microorganisms in the Bioleaching of Soils Polluted with Heavy Metals

This paper shows researches in order to extract Cr, Cu and Ni from the polluted soils. Research is based on preliminary studies regarding the usage of Thiobacillus ferrooxidans bacterium (9K medium) for bioleaching of soil polluted with heavy metal (Cu, Cr and Ni). The microorganisms (Thiobacillus ferooxidans) selected directly from polluted soil samples were used in this experimental work. Soil samples used in the experimental research were taken from an area polluted with heavy metals from Romania. The soil samples are subjected to the cleaning process using the 9K medium solution (20 mL and 40 mL, respectively), stirred 200 rpm for 20 hours at a controlled temperature (30 ˚C). During the experiment (0, 2, 4, 8 and 20 h), liquid samples have been extracted and analyzed using the Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer AA-6800 (AAS) in order to determine the Cr, Cu and Ni concentration. Experiments led to the conclusion that these soils can be depolluted by bioleaching, being a biological treatment method involving the use of microorganisms to favor the extraction of Cr, Cu and Ni from polluted soils.

A Risk Assessment for the Small Hive Beetle Based on Meteorological Standard Measurements

The Small Hive Beetle, Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) is a parasite for honey bee colonies, Apis mellifera, and was recently introduced to the European continent, accidentally. Based on the literature, a model was developed by using regional meteorological variables (daily values of minimum, maximum and mean air temperature as well as mean soil temperature at 50 mm depth) to calculate the time-point of hive invasion by A. tumida in springtime, the development duration of pupae as well as the number of generations of A. tumida per year. Luxembourg was used as a test region for our model for 2005 to 2013. The model output indicates a successful surviving of the Small Hive Beetle in Luxembourg with two up to three generations per year. Additionally, based on our meteorological data sets a first migration of SHB to apiaries can be expected from mid of March up to April. Our approach can be transferred easily to other countries to estimate the risk potential for a successful introduction and spreading of A. tumida in Western Europe.

A Small-Scale Flexible Test Bench for the Investigation of Fertigation Strategies in Soilless Culture
In soilless culture, the management of the nutrient solution is the most important aspect for crop growing. Fertigation dose, frequency and nutrient concentration must be planned with the objective of reaching an optimal crop growth by limiting the utilized resources and the associated costs. The definition of efficient fertigation strategies is a complex problem since fertigation requirements vary on the basis of different factors, and crops are sensitive to small variations on fertigation parameters. To the best of author knowledge, a small-scale test bench that is flexible for both nutrient solution preparation and precise irrigation is currently missing, limiting the investigations in standard practices for soilless culture. Starting from the analysis of the state of the art, this paper proposes a small-scale system that is potentially able to concurrently test different fertigation strategies. The system will be designed and implemented throughout a three year project started on August 2018. However, due to the importance of the topic within current challenges as food security and climate change, this work is spread considering that may inspire other universities and organizations.
Using GIS and Map Data for the Analysis of the Relationship between Soil and Groundwater Quality at Saline Soil Area of Kham Sakaesaeng District, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
The study area is Kham Sakaesaeng District in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, the south section of Northeastern Thailand, located in the Lower Khorat-Ubol Basin. This region is the one of saline soil area, located in a dry plateau and regularly experience standing with periods of floods and alternating with periods of drought. Especially, the drought in the summer season causes the major saline soil and saline water problems of this region. The general cause of dry land salting resulted from salting on irrigated land, and an excess of water leading to the rising water table in the aquifer. The purpose of this study is to determine the relationship of physical and chemical properties between the soil and groundwater. The soil and groundwater samples were collected in both rainy and summer seasons. The content of pH, electrical conductivity (EC), total dissolved solids (TDS), chloride and salinity were investigated. The experimental result of soil and groundwater samples show the slightly pH less than 7, EC (186 to 8,156 us/cm and 960 to 10,712 us/cm), TDS (93 to 3,940 ppm and 480 to 5,356 ppm), chloride content (45.58 to 4,177,015 mg/l and 227.90 to 9,216,736 mg/l), and salinity (0.07 to 4.82 ppt and 0.24 to 14.46 ppt) in the rainy and summer seasons, respectively. The distribution of chloride content and salinity content were interpolated and displayed as a map by using ArcMap 10.3 program, according to the season. The result of saline soil and brined groundwater in the study area were related to the low-lying topography, drought area, and salt-source exposure. Especially, the Rock Salt Member of Maha Sarakham Formation was exposed or lies near the ground surface in this study area. During the rainy season, salt was eroded or weathered from the salt-source rock formation and transported by surface flow or leached into the groundwater. In the dry season, the ground surface is dry enough resulting salt precipitates from the brined surface water or rises from the brined groundwater influencing the increasing content of chloride and salinity in the ground surface and groundwater.
Poultry Manure and Its Derived Biochar as a Soil Amendment for Newly Reclaimed Sandy Soils under Arid and Semi-Arid Conditions

Sandy soils under arid and semi-arid conditions are characterized by poor physical and biochemical properties such as low water retention, rapid organic matter decomposition, low nutrients use efficiency, and limited crop productivity. Addition of organic amendments is crucial to develop soil properties and consequently enhance nutrients use efficiency and lessen organic carbon decomposition. Two years field experiments were developed to investigate the feasibility of using poultry manure and its derived biochar integrated with different levels of N fertilizer as a soil amendment for newly reclaimed sandy soils in Western Desert of El-Minia Governorate, Egypt. Results of this research revealed that poultry manure and its derived biochar addition induced pronounced effects on soil moisture content at saturation point, field capacity (FC) and consequently available water. Data showed that application of poultry manure (PM) or PM-derived biochar (PMB) in combination with inorganic N levels had caused significant changes on a range of the investigated sandy soil biochemical properties including pH, EC, mineral N, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), dissolved organic N (DON) and quotient DOC/DON. Overall, the impact of PMB on soil physical properties was detected to be superior than the impact of PM, regardless the inorganic N levels. In addition, the obtained results showed that PM and PM application had the capacity to stimulate vigorous growth, nutritional status, production levels of wheat and sorghum, and to increase soil organic matter content and N uptake and recovery compared to control. By contrast, comparing between PM and PMB at different levels of inorganic N, the obtained results showed higher relative increases in both grain and straw yields of wheat in plots treated with PM than in those treated with PMB. The interesting feature of this research is that the biochar derived from PM increased treated sandy soil organic carbon (SOC) 1.75 times more than soil treated with PM itself at the end of cropping seasons albeit double-applied amount of PM. This was attributed to the higher carbon stability of biochar treated sandy soils increasing soil persistence for carbon decomposition in comparison with PM labile carbon. It could be concluded that organic manures applied to sandy soils under arid and semi-arid conditions are subjected to high decomposition and mineralization rates through crop seasons. Biochar derived from organic wastes considers as a source of stable carbon and could be very hopeful choice for substituting easily decomposable organic manures under arid conditions. Therefore, sustainable agriculture and productivity in newly reclaimed sandy soils desire one high rate addition of biochar derived from organic manures instead of frequent addition of such organic amendments.

Investigation of Effective Parameters on Pullout Capacity in Soil Nailing with Special Attention to International Design Codes

An important and influential factor in design and determining the safety factor in Soil Nailing is the ultimate pullout capacity, or, in other words, bond strength. This important parameter depends on several factors such as material and soil texture, method of implementation, excavation diameter, friction angle between the nail and the soil, grouting pressure, the nail depth (overburden pressure), the angle of drilling and the degree of saturation in soil. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), a customary regulation in the design of nailing, is considered only the effect of the soil type (or rock) and the method of implementation in determining the bond strength, which results in non-economic design. The other regulations are each of a kind, some of the parameters affecting bond resistance are not taken into account. Therefore, in the present paper, at first the relationships and tables presented by several valid regulations are presented for estimating the ultimate pullout capacity, and then the effect of several important factors affecting on ultimate Pullout capacity are studied. Finally, it was determined, the effect of overburden pressure (in method of injection with pressure), soil dilatation and roughness of the drilling surface on pullout strength is incremental, and effect of degree of soil saturation on pullout strength to a certain degree of saturation is increasing and then decreasing. therefore it is better to get help from nail pullout-strength test results and numerical modeling to evaluate the effect of parameters such as overburden pressure, dilatation, and degree of soil saturation, and so on to reach an optimal and economical design.

Numerical Investigation of Soft Clayey Soil Improved by Soil-Cement Columns under Harmonic Load

Deep soil mixing is one of the improvement methods in geotechnical engineering which is widely used in soft soils. This article investigates the consolidation behavior of a soft clay soil which is improved by soil-cement column (SCC) by numerical modeling using Plaxis2D program. This behavior is simulated under vertical static and cyclic load which is applied on the soil surface. The static load problem is the simulation of a physical model test in an axisymmetric condition which uses a single SCC in the model center. The results of numerical modeling consist of settlement of soft soil composite, stress on soft soil and column, and excessive pore water pressure in the soil show a good correspondence with the test results. The response of soft soil composite to the cyclic load in vertical direction also compared with the static results. Also the effects of two variables namely the cement content used in a SCC and the area ratio (the ratio of the diameter of SCC to the diameter of composite soil model, a) is investigated. The results show that the stress on the column with the higher value of a, is lesser compared with the stress on other columns. Different rate of consolidation and excessive pore pressure distribution is observed in cyclic load problem. Also comparing the results of settlement of soil shows higher compressibility in the cyclic load problem.

Numerical Evaluation of Lateral Bearing Capacity of Piles in Cement-Treated Soils

Soft soil is used in many of civil engineering projects like coastal, marine and road projects. Because of low shear strength and stiffness of soft soils, large settlement and low bearing capacity will occur under superstructure loads. This will make the civil engineering activities more difficult and costlier. In the case of soft soils, improvement is a suitable method to increase the shear strength and stiffness for engineering purposes. In recent years, the artificial cementation of soil by cement and lime has been extensively used for soft soil improvement. Cement stabilization is a well-established technique for improving soft soils. Artificial cementation increases the shear strength and hardness of the natural soils. On the other hand, in soft soils, the use of piles to transfer loads to the depths of ground is usual. By using cement treated soil around the piles, high bearing capacity and low settlement in piles can be achieved. In the present study, lateral bearing capacity of short piles in cemented soils is investigated by numerical approach. For this purpose, three dimensional (3D) finite difference software, FLAC 3D is used. Cement treated soil has a strain hardening-softening behavior, because of breaking of bonds between cement agent and soil particle. To simulate such behavior, strain hardening-softening soil constitutive model is used for cement treated soft soil. Additionally, conventional elastic-plastic Mohr Coulomb constitutive model and linear elastic model are used for stress-strain behavior of natural soils and pile. To determine the parameters of constitutive models and also for verification of numerical model, the results of available triaxial laboratory tests on and insitu loading of piles in cement treated soft soil are used. Different parameters are considered in parametric study to determine the effective parameters on the bearing of the piles on cemented treated soils. In the present paper, the effect of various length and height of the artificial cemented area, different diameter and length of the pile and the properties of the materials are studied. Also, the effect of choosing a constitutive model for cemented treated soils in the bearing capacity of the pile is investigated.

Numerical Investigation of Embankment Settlement Improved by Method of Preloading by Vertical Drains

Time dependent settlement due to loading on soft saturated soils produces many problems such as high consolidation settlements and low consolidation rates. Also, long term consolidation settlement of soft soil underlying the embankment leads to unpredicted settlements and cracks on soil surface. Preloading method is an effective improvement method to solve this problem. Using vertical drains in preloading method is an effective method for improving soft soils. Applying deep soil mixing method on soft soils is another effective method for improving soft soils. There are little studies on using two methods of preloading and deep soil mixing simultaneously. In this paper, the concurrent effect of preloading with deep soil mixing by vertical drains is investigated through a finite element code, Plaxis2D. The influence of parameters such as deep soil mixing columns spacing, existence of vertical drains and distance between them, on settlement and stability factor of safety of embankment embedded on soft soil is investigated in this research.

Effect of Core Puncture Diameter on Bio-Char Kiln Efficiency

Biochar has been used as a soil amendment since it has high porous structure and has proper nutrients and chemical properties for plants. Product yields produced from biochar kiln are dependent on process parameters and kiln types used. The objective of this research is to investigate the effect of core puncture diameter on biochar kiln efficiency, i.e., yields of biochar and produced gas. Corncobs were used as raw material to produce biochar. Briquettes from agricultural wastes were used as fuel. Each treatment was performed by changing the core puncture diameter. From the experiment, it is revealed that the yield of biochar at the core puncture diameter of 3.18 mm, 4.76 mm, and 6.35 mm was 10.62 wt. %, 24.12 wt. %, and 12.24 wt. %, of total solid yields, respectively. The yield of produced gas increased with increasing the core puncture diameter. The maximum percentage by weight of the yield of produced gas was 81.53 wt. % which was found at the core puncture diameter of 6.35 mm. The core puncture diameter was furthermore found to affect the temperature distribution inside the kiln and its thermal efficiency. In conclusion, the high efficient biochar kiln can be designed and constructed by using the proper core puncture diameter.

Effect of Confinement on the Bearing Capacity and Settlement of Spread Foundations

Allowable-bearing capacity is the competency of soil to safely carries the pressure from the superstructure without experiencing a shear failure with accompanying excessive settlements. Ensuring a safe bearing pressure with respect to failure does not tolerate settlement of the foundation will be within acceptable limits. Therefore, settlement analysis should always be performed since most structures are settlement sensitive. When visualising the movement of a soil wedge in the bearing capacity criterion, both vertically and horizontally, it becomes clear that by confining the soil surrounding the foundation, both the bearing capacity and settlement values improve. In this study, two sizes of spread foundation were considered; (2×4) m and (3×5) m. These represent two real problem case studies of an existing building. The foundations were analysed in terms of dimension as well as position with respect to a confining wall (i.e., sheet piles on both sides). Assuming B is the least foundation dimension, the study comprised the analyses of three distances; (0.1 B), (0.5 B), and (0.75 B) between the sheet piles and foundations alongside three depths of confinement (0.5 B), (1 B), and (1.5 B). Nonlinear three-dimensional finite element analysis (ANSYS) was adopted to perform an analytical investigation on the behaviour of the two foundations contained by the case study. Results showed that confinement of foundations reduced the overall stresses near the foundation by 65% and reduced the vertical displacement by 90%. Moreover, the most effective distance between the confinement wall and the foundation was found to be 0.5 B.

Displacement Fields in Footing-Sand Interactions under Cyclic Loading

Soils are subjected to cyclic loading in situ in situations such as during earthquakes and in the compaction of pavements. Investigations on the local scale measurement of the displacements of the grain and failure patterns within the soil bed under the cyclic loading conditions are rather limited. In this paper, using the digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV), local scale displacement fields of a dense sand medium interacting with a rigid footing are measured under the plane-strain condition for two commonly used types of cyclic loading, and the quasi-static loading condition for the purposes of comparison. From the displacement measurements of the grains, the failure envelopes of the sand media are also presented. The results show that, the ultimate cyclic bearing capacity (qultcyc) occurred corresponding to a relatively higher settlement value when compared with that of under the quasi-static loading. For the sand media under the cyclic loading conditions considered here, the displacement fields in the soil media occurred more widely in the horizontal direction and less deeper along the vertical direction when compared with that of under the quasi-static loading. The 'dead zone' in the sand grains beneath the footing is identified for all types of the loading conditions studied here. These grain-scale characteristics have implications on the resulting bulk bearing capacity of the sand media in footing-sand interaction problems.

Interaction of between Cd and Zn in Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) Plant for Phytoextraction Method

The aim of this research is to remediation of the cadmium (Cd) pollution in agricultural soils by using barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) plant. For this purpose, a pot experiment was done in greenhouse conditions. Cadmium (100 mg/kg) as CdSO4.8H2O forms was applied to each pot and incubated during 30 days. Then Ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) chelate was applied to each pot at five doses (0, 3, 6, 8 and 10 mmol/kg) 20 days before harvesting time of the barley plants. The plants were harvested after two months planting. According to the pot experiment results, Cd and Zn amounts of barley plant increased with increasing EDTA application and Zn and Cd contents of barley 20,13 and 1,35 mg/kg for 0 mmol /kg EDTA; 58,61 and 113,24 mg/kg for 10 mmol/kg EDTA doses, respectively. On the other hand, Cd and Zn concentrations of experiment soil increased with EDTA application to the soil samples. Zinc and Cd concentrations of soil 0,31 and 0,021 mg/kg for 0 mmol /kg EDTA; 2,39 and 67,40 mg/kg for 10 mmol/kg EDTA doses, respectively. These increases were found to be statistically significant at the level of 1 %. According to the results of the pot experiment, some heavy metal especially Cd pollution of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) plant province can be remediated by the phytoextraction method.

Comparative Study of Equivalent Linear and Non-Linear Ground Response Analysis for Rapar District of Kutch, India

Earthquakes are considered to be the most destructive rapid-onset disasters human beings are exposed to. The amount of loss it brings in is sufficient to take careful considerations for designing of structures and facilities. Seismic Hazard Analysis is one such tool which can be used for earthquake resistant design. Ground Response Analysis is one of the most crucial and decisive steps for seismic hazard analysis. Rapar district of Kutch, Gujarat falls in Zone 5 of earthquake zone map of India and thus has high seismicity because of which it is selected for analysis. In total 8 bore-log data were studied at different locations in and around Rapar district. Different soil engineering properties were analyzed and relevant empirical correlations were used to calculate maximum shear modulus (Gmax) and shear wave velocity (Vs) for the soil layers. The soil was modeled using Pressure-Dependent Modified Kodner Zelasko (MKZ) model and the reference curve used for fitting was Seed and Idriss (1970) for sand and Darendeli (2001) for clay. Both Equivalent linear (EL), as well as Non-linear (NL) ground response analysis, has been carried out with Masing Hysteretic Re/Unloading formulation for comparison. Commercially available DEEPSOIL v. 7.0 software is used for this analysis. In this study an attempt is made to quantify ground response regarding generated acceleration time-history at top of the soil column, Response spectra calculation at 5 % damping and Fourier amplitude spectrum calculation. Moreover, the variation of Peak Ground Acceleration (PGA), Maximum Displacement, Maximum Strain (in %), Maximum Stress Ratio, Mobilized Shear Stress with depth is also calculated. From the study, PGA values estimated in rocky strata are nearly same as bedrock motion and marginal amplification is observed in sandy silt and silty clays by both analyses. The NL analysis gives conservative results of maximum displacement as compared to EL analysis. Maximum strain predicted by both studies is very close to each other. And overall NL analysis is more efficient and realistic because it follows the actual hyperbolic stress-strain relationship, considers stiffness degradation and mobilizes stresses generated due to pore water pressure.

Comparing Field Displacement History with Numerical Results to Estimate Geotechnical Parameters: Case Study of Arash-Esfandiar-Niayesh under Passing Tunnel, 2.5 Traffic Lane Tunnel, Tehran, Iran

Underground structures are of those structures that have uncertainty in design procedures. That is due to the complexity of soil condition around. Under passing tunnels are also such affected structures. Despite geotechnical site investigations, lots of uncertainties exist in soil properties due to unknown events. As results, it possibly causes conflicting settlements in numerical analysis with recorded values in the project. This paper aims to report a case study on a specific under passing tunnel constructed by New Austrian Tunnelling Method in Iran. The intended tunnel has an overburden of about 11.3m, the height of 12.2m and, the width of 14.4m with 2.5 traffic lane. The numerical modeling was developed by a 2D finite element program (PLAXIS Version 8). Comparing displacement histories at the ground surface during the entire installation of initial lining, the estimated surface settlement was about four times the field recorded one, which indicates that some local unknown events affect that value. Also, the displacement ratios were in a big difference between the numerical and field data. Consequently, running several numerical back analyses using laboratory and field tests data, the geotechnical parameters were accurately revised to match with the obtained monitoring data. Finally, it was found that usually the values of soil parameters are conservatively low-estimated up to 40 percent by typical engineering judgment. Additionally, it could be attributed to inappropriate constitutive models applied for the specific soil condition.

Evaluation of Shear Strength Parameters of Rudsar Sandy Soil Stabilized with Waste Rubber Chips

The use of waste rubber chips not only can be of great importance in terms of the environment, but also can be used to increase the shear strength of soils. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the variation of the internal friction angle of liquefiable sandy soil using waste rubber chips. For this purpose, the geotechnical properties of unmodified and modified soil samples by waste lining rubber chips have been evaluated and analyzed by performing the triaxial consolidated drained test. In order to prepare the laboratory specimens, the sandy soil in part of Rudsar shores in Gilan province, north of Iran with high liquefaction potential has been replaced by two percent of waste rubber chips. Samples have been compressed until reaching the two levels of density of 15.5 and 16.7 kN/m3. Also, in order to find the optimal length of chips in sandy soil, the rectangular rubber chips with the widths of 0.5 and 1 cm and the lengths of 0.5, 1, and 2 cm were used. The results showed that the addition of rubber chips to liquefiable sandy soil greatly increases the shear resistance of these soils. Also, it can be seen that decreasing the width and increasing the length-to-width ratio of rubber chips has a direct impact on the shear strength of the modified soil samples with rubber chips.

The Influence of the Geogrid Layers on the Bearing Capacity of Layered Soils

Many classical bearing capacity theories assume that the natural soil's layers are homogenous for determining the bearing capacity of the soil. But, in many practical projects, we encounter multi-layer soils. Geosynthetic as reinforcement materials have been extensively used in the construction of various structures. In this paper, numerical analysis of the Plate Load Test (PLT) using of ABAQUS software in double-layered soils with different thicknesses of sandy and gravelly layers reinforced with geogrid was considered. The PLT is one of the common filed methods to calculate parameters such as soil bearing capacity, the evaluation of the compressibility and the determination of the Subgrade Reaction module. In fact, the influence of the geogrid layers on the bearing capacity of the layered soils is investigated. Finally, the most appropriate mode for the distance and number of reinforcement layers is determined. Results show that using three layers of geogrid with a distance of 0.3 times the width of the loading plate has the highest efficiency in bearing capacity of double-layer (sand and gravel) soils. Also, the significant increase in bearing capacity between unreinforced and reinforced soil with three layers of geogrid is caused by the condition that the upper layer (gravel) thickness is equal to the loading plate width.

Sunflower Irrigation with Two Different Types of Soil Moisture Sensors

Irrigation is one of the most important cultivation practices for each crop, especially in areas where rainfall is enough to cover the crop water needs. In such areas, the farmers must irrigate in order to achieve high economical results. The precise irrigation scheduling contributes to irrigation water saving and thus a valuable natural resource is protected. Under this point of view, in the experimental field of the Laboratory of Agricultural Hydraulics of the University of Thessaly, a research was conducted during the growing season of 2012 in order to evaluate the growth, seed and oil production of sunflower as well as the water saving, by applying different methods of irrigation scheduling. Three treatments in four replications were organized. These were: a) surface drip irrigation where the irrigation scheduling based on the Penman-Monteith (PM) method (control); b) surface drip irrigation where the irrigation scheduling based on a soil moisture sensor (SMS); and c) surface drip irrigation, where the irrigation scheduling based on a soil potential sensor (WM).

Biodegradation Behavior of Cellulose Acetate with DS 2.5 in Simulated Soil

The relationship between biodegradation and mechanical behavior is fundamental for studies of the application of cellulose acetate films as a possible material for biodegradable packaging. In this work, the biodegradation of cellulose acetate (CA) with DS 2.5 was analyzed in simulated soil. CA films were prepared by casting and buried in the simulated soil. Samples were taken monthly and analyzed, the total time of biodegradation was 6 months. To characterize the biodegradable CA, the DMA technique was employed. The main result showed that the time of exposure to the simulated soil affects the mechanical properties of the films and the values of crystallinity. By DMA analysis, it was possible to conclude that as the CA is biodegraded, its mechanical properties were altered, for example, storage modulus has increased with biodegradation and the modulus of loss has decreased. Analyzes of DSC, XRD, and FTIR were also carried out to characterize the biodegradation of CA, which corroborated with the results of DMA. The observation of the carbonyl band by FTIR and crystalline indices obtained by XRD were important to evaluate the degradation of CA during the exposure time.

Jigger Flea (Tunga penetrans) Infestations and Use of Soil-Cow Dung-Ash Mixture as a Flea Control Method in Eastern Uganda

Despite several interventions, jigger flea infestations continue to be reported in the Busoga sub-region in Eastern Uganda. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that expose the indigenous people to jigger flea infestations and evaluate the effectiveness of any indigenous materials used in flea control by the affected communities. Flea compositions in residences were described, factors associated with flea infestation and indigenous materials used in flea control were evaluated. Field surveys were conducted in the affected communities after obtaining preliminary information on jigger infestation from the offices of the District Health Inspectors to identify the affected villages and households. Informed consent was then sought from the local authorities and household heads to conduct the study. Focus group discussions were conducted with key district informants, namely, the District Health Inspectors, District Entomologists and representatives from the District Health Office. A GPS coordinate was taken at central point at every household enrolled. Fleas were trapped inside residences using Kilonzo traps. A Kilonzo Trap comprised a shallow pan, about three centimetres deep, filled to the brim with water. The edges of the pan were smeared with Vaseline to prevent fleas from crawling out. Traps were placed in the evening and checked every morning the following day. The trapped fleas were collected in labelled vials filled with 70% aqueous ethanol and taken to the laboratory for identification. Socio-economic and environmental data were collected. The results indicate that the commonest flea trapped in the residences was the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) (50%), followed by Jigger flea (Tunga penetrans) (46%) and rat flea (Xenopsylla Cheopis) (4%), respectively. The average size of residences was seven squire metres with a mean of six occupants. The residences were generally untidy; with loose dusty floors and the brick walls were not plastered. The majority of the jigger affected households were headed by peasants (86.7%) and artisans (13.3%). The household heads mainly stopped at primary school level (80%) and few at secondary school level (20%). The jigger affected households were mainly headed by peasants of low socioeconomic status. The affected community members use soil-cow dung-ash mixture to smear floors of residences as the only measure to control fleas. This method was found to be ineffective in controlling the insects. The study recommends that home improvement campaigns be continued in the affected communities to improve sanitation and hygiene in residences as one of the interventions to combat flea infestations. Other cheap, available and effective means should be identified to curb jigger flea infestations.

Geostatistical Analysis of Contamination of Soils in an Urban Area in Ghana

Urbanization remains one of the unique predominant factors which is linked to the destruction of urban environment and its associated cases of soil contamination by heavy metals through the natural and anthropogenic activities. These activities are important sources of toxic heavy metals such as arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), and lead (Pb), nickel (Ni) and zinc (Zn). Often, these heavy metals lead to increased levels in some areas due to the impact of atmospheric deposition caused by their proximity to industrial plants or the indiscriminately burning of substances. Information gathered on potentially hazardous levels of these heavy metals in soils leads to establish serious health and urban agriculture implications. However, characterization of spatial variations of soil contamination by heavy metals in Ghana is limited. Kumasi is a Metropolitan city in Ghana, West Africa and is challenged with the recent spate of deteriorating soil quality due to rapid economic development and other human activities such as “Galamsey”, illegal mining operations within the metropolis. The paper seeks to use both univariate and multivariate geostatistical techniques to assess the spatial distribution of heavy metals in soils and the potential risk associated with ingestion of sources of soil contamination in the Metropolis. Geostatistical tools have the ability to detect changes in correlation structure and how a good knowledge of the study area can help to explain the different scales of variation detected. To achieve this task, point referenced data on heavy metals measured from topsoil samples in a previous study, were collected at various locations. Linear models of regionalisation and coregionalisation were fitted to all experimental semivariograms to describe the spatial dependence between the topsoil heavy metals at different spatial scales, which led to ordinary kriging and cokriging at unsampled locations and production of risk maps of soil contamination by these heavy metals. Results obtained from both the univariate and multivariate semivariogram models showed strong spatial dependence with range of autocorrelations ranging from 100 to 300 meters. The risk maps produced show strong spatial heterogeneity for almost all the soil heavy metals with extremely risk of contamination found close to areas with commercial and industrial activities. Hence, ongoing pollution interventions should be geared towards these highly risk areas for efficient management of soil contamination to avert further pollution in the metropolis.

Design and Experiment of Orchard Gas Explosion Subsoiling and Fertilizer Injection Machine

At present, the orchard ditching and fertilizing technology has a series of problems, such as easy tree roots damage, high energy consumption and uneven fertilizing. In this paper, a gas explosion subsoiling and fertilizer injection machine was designed, which used high pressure gas to shock soil body and then injected fertilizer. The drill pipe mechanism with pneumatic chipping hammer excitation and hydraulic assistance was designed to drill the soil. The operation of gas and liquid fertilizer supply was controlled by PLC system. The 3D model of the whole machine was established by using SolidWorks software. The machine prototype was produced, and field experiments were carried out. The results showed that soil fractures were created and diffused by gas explosion, and the subsoiling effect radius reached 40 cm under the condition of 0.8 MPa gas pressure and 30 cm drilling depth. What’s more, the work efficiency is 0.048 hm2/h at least. This machine could meet the agronomic requirements of orchard, garden and city greening fertilization, and the tree roots were not easily damaged and the fertilizer evenly distributed, which was conducive to nutrient absorption of root growth.

Lead in The Soil-Plant System Following Aged Contamination from Ceramic Wastes

Lead contamination of agricultural land mainly vegetated with perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) has been investigated. The metal derived from the discharge of sludge from a ceramic industry in the past had used lead paints. The results showed very high values of lead concentration in many soil samples. In order to assess the lead soil contamination, a sequential extraction with H2O, KNO3, EDTA was performed, and the chemical forms of lead in the soil were evaluated. More than 70% of lead was in a potentially bioavailable form. Analysis of Lolium perenne showed elevated lead concentration. A Freundlich-like model was used to describe the transferability of the metal from the soil to the plant.

A Resource Survey of Lateritic Soils and Impact Evaluation toward Community Members Living Nearby the Excavation Pits

The objectives of the research are to find the basic engineering properties of lateritic soil and to predict the impact on community members who live nearby the excavation pits in the area of Amphur Pak Thor, Ratchaburi Province in the western area of Thailand. The research was conducted by collecting soil samples from four excavation pits for basic engineering properties, testing and collecting questionnaire data from 120 community members who live nearby the excavation pits, and applying statistical analysis. The results found that the basic engineering properties of lateritic soil can be classified into silt soil type which is cohesionless as the loess or collapsible soil which is not suitable to be used for a pavement structure for commuting highway because it could lead to structural and functional failure in the long run. In terms of opinion from community members toward the impact, the highest impact was on the dust from excavation activities. The prediction from the logistic regression in terms of impact on community members was at 84.32 which can be adapted and applied onto other areas with the same context as a guideline for risk prevention and risk communication since it could impact the infrastructures and also impact the health of community members.

Legal Basis for Water Resources Management in Brazil: Case Study of the Rio Grande Basin

The water crisis, a major problem of the 21st century, occurs mainly due to poor management. The central issue that should govern the management is the integration of the various aspects that interfere with the use of water resources and their protection, supported by legal basis. A watershed is a unit of water interacting with the physical, biotic, social, economic and cultural variables. The Brazilian law recognized river basin as the territorial management unit. Based on the diagnosis of the current situation of the water resources of the Rio Grande Basin, a discussion informed in the Brazilian legal basis was made to propose measures to fight or mitigate damages and environmental degradation in the Basin. To manage water resources more efficiently, conserve water and optimize their multiple uses, the integration of acquired scientific knowledge and management is essential. Moreover, it is necessary to monitor compliance with environmental legislation.

Application of Artificial Neural Network in Assessing Fill Slope Stability

This paper details the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) in the field of slope stability whereby quick and convenient solutions can be obtained using the developed tool. The AI tool used in this study is the artificial neural network (ANN), while the slope stability analysis methods are the finite element limit analysis methods. The developed tool allows for the prompt prediction of the safety factors of fill slopes and their corresponding probability of failure (depending on the degree of variation of the soil parameters), which can give the practicing engineer a reasonable basis in their decision making. In fact, the successful use of the Extreme Learning Machine (ELM) algorithm shows that slope stability analysis is no longer confined to the conventional methods of modeling, which at times may be tedious and repetitive during the preliminary design stage where the focus is more on cost saving options rather than detailed design. Therefore, similar ANN-based tools can be further developed to assist engineers in this aspect.

Application of Metarhizium anisopliae against Meloidogyne javanica in Soil Amended with Oak Debris

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) is one of the most popular, widely grown and the second most important vegetable crop, after potatoes. Nematodes have been identified as one of the major pests affecting tomato production throughout the world. The most destructive nematodes are the genus Meloidogyne. Most widespread and devastating species of this genus are M. incognita, M. javanica, and M. arenaria. These species can cause complete crop loss under adverse growing conditions. There are several potential methods for management of the root knot nematodes. Although the chemicals are widely used against the phytonematodes, because of hazardous effects of these compounds on non-target organisms and on the environment, there is a need to develop other control strategies. Nowadays, non-chemical measures are widely used to control the plant parasitic nematodes. Biocontrol of phytonematodes is an important method among environment-friendly measures of nematode management. There are some soil-inhabiting fungi that have biocontrol potential on phytonematodes, which can be used in nematode management program. The fungus Metarhizium anisopliae, originally is an entomopathogenic bioagent. Biocontrol potential of this fungus on some phytonematodes has been reported earlier. Recently, use of organic soil amendments as well as the use of bioagents is under special attention in sustainable agriculture. This research aimed to reduce the pesticide use in control of root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne javanica in tomato. The effects of M. anisopliae IMI 330189 and different levels of oak tree debris on M. javanica were determined. The combination effect of the fungus as well as the different rates of soil amendments was determined. Pots were filled with steam pasteurized soil mixture and the six leaf tomato seedlings were inoculated with 3000 second stage larvae of M. javanica/kg of soil. After eight weeks, plant growth parameters and nematode reproduction factors were compared. Based on the results of our experiment, combination of M. anisopliae IMI 330189 and oak debris caused more than 90% reduction in reproduction factor of nematode, at the rates of 100 and 150 g/kg soil (P ≤ 0.05). As compared to control, the reduction in number of galls was 76%. It was 86% for nematode reproduction factor, showing the significance of combined effect of both tested agents. Our results showed that plant debris can increase the biological activity of the tested bioagent. It was also proved that there was no adverse effect of oak debris, which potentially has antimicrobial activity, on antagonistic power of applied bioagent.

Impact of Interface Soil Layer on Groundwater Aquifer Behaviour

The geological environment where the groundwater is collected represents the most important element that affects the behaviour of groundwater aquifer. As groundwater is a worldwide vital resource, it requires knowing the parameters that affect this source accurately so that the conceptualized mathematical models would be acceptable to the broadest ranges. Therefore, groundwater models have recently become an effective and efficient tool to investigate groundwater aquifer behaviours. Groundwater aquifer may contain aquitards, aquicludes, or interfaces within its geological formations. Aquitards and aquicludes have geological formations that forced the modellers to include those formations within the conceptualized groundwater models, while interfaces are commonly neglected from the conceptualization process because the modellers believe that the interface has no effect on aquifer behaviour. The current research highlights the impact of an interface existing in a real unconfined groundwater aquifer called Dibdibba, located in Al-Najaf City, Iraq where it has a river called the Euphrates River that passes through the eastern part of this city. Dibdibba groundwater aquifer consists of two types of soil layers separated by an interface soil layer. A groundwater model is built for Al-Najaf City to explore the impact of this interface. Calibration process is done using PEST 'Parameter ESTimation' approach and the best Dibdibba groundwater model is obtained. When the soil interface is conceptualized, results show that the groundwater tables are significantly affected by that interface through appearing dry areas of 56.24 km² and 6.16 km² in the upper and lower layers of the aquifer, respectively. The Euphrates River will also leak water into the groundwater aquifer of 7359 m³/day. While these results are changed when the soil interface is neglected where the dry area became 0.16 km², the Euphrates River leakage became 6334 m³/day. In addition, the conceptualized models (with and without interface) reveal different responses for the change in the recharge rates applied on the aquifer through the uncertainty analysis test. The aquifer of Dibdibba in Al-Najaf City shows a slight deficit in the amount of water supplied by the current pumping scheme and also notices that the Euphrates River suffers from stresses applied to the aquifer. Ultimately, this study shows a crucial need to represent the interface soil layer in model conceptualization to be the intended and future predicted behaviours more reliable for consideration purposes.

Soil Moisture Control System: A Product Development Approach

In this work, we propose the concept and geometrical design of a soil moisture control system (SMCS) module by following the product development approach to develop an inexpensive, easy to use and quick to install product targeted towards agriculture practitioners. The module delivers water to the agricultural land efficiently by sensing the soil moisture and activating the delivery valve. We start with identifying the general needs of the potential customer. Then, based on customer needs we establish product specifications and identify important measuring quantities to evaluate our product. Keeping in mind the specifications, we develop various conceptual solutions of the product and select the best solution through concept screening and selection matrices. Then, we develop the product architecture by integrating the systems into the final product. In the end, the geometric design is done using human factors engineering concepts like heuristic analysis, task analysis, and human error reduction analysis. The result of human factors analysis reveals the remedies which should be applied while designing the geometry and software components of the product. We find that to design the best grip in terms of comfort and applied force, for a power-type grip, a grip-diameter of 35 mm is the most ideal.

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