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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL RESOURCES AND AIR QUALITY AFFECTED BY WIND EROSION AND FUGITIVE DUST EMISSIONS: PROCESSES, SIMULATION AND CONTROL

Location: Engineering and Wind Erosion Research Unit

Title: Effect of canopy leaf distribution on sand transport and abrasion energy

Authors
item Hagen, Lawrence
item CASADA, MARK

Submitted to: Aeolian Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 7, 2013
Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Repository URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aeolia.2013.01.005
Citation: Hagen, L.J., Casada, M.E. 2013. Effect of canopy leaf distribution on sand transport and abrasion energy. Aeolian Research. 10:37-42.

Interpretive Summary: When crop canopies are short or sparse, wind erosion can uncover plant roots, deplete the soil resource, and damage plants by abrasion and desiccation. This study determined the effects of number and distribution of leaves on threshold velocities, sand transport rates, and relative abrasion energy among simulated soybean seedling plant canopies. Six canopies were tested in a wind tunnel with the floor covered with sieved sand using maximum freestream wind speeds from 30 to 38 mph. The height above the surface of maximum abrasion energy also increased with wind speed in the plant canopy, but remained nearly constant over a bare sand surface. When leaves were located nearest the surface, they modified the vertical abrasion profiles by deflecting a portion of the sand impact energy upward in the wind stream. The modified abrasion profiles differed from that for isolated plants subject to profiles that develop over a bare surface upwind of the plants. Hence, it may be important to place test plants within a canopy of similar plants when conducting plant abrasion tests using sand. In contrast, abrasion on inter-row flat soil containers was independent of wind speeds, but was slightly higher without a canopy compared to measurements in the canopy with a similar sand discharge.

Technical Abstract: During times when crop canopies are short or sparse, wind erosion can uncover plant roots, deplete the soil resource, and damage plants by abrasion and desiccation. Few studies have considered the effects of position and number of leaves on sand transport and the distribution of the sand abrasion energy. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of number and distribution of leaves on threshold velocities, sand transport rates, and relative abrasion energy among simulated dicotyledonous plant canopies. Six canopies were tested in a wind tunnel with two levels of leaf area index (LAI), two different maximum leaf heights, and either two or four leaves per plant with maximum freestream wind speeds from 13 to 17 m s-1. The leaf heights were selected to position the lowest leaves to be either intercepting saltating sand or largely above the saltation layer. The wind tunnel was a 1.52 W x 1.82 H x 15.3 L m push-type recirculating tunnel with the floor covered with a layer of sieved sand. Sand discharge and relative abrasion energy were measured during 3-minute duration test runs. For canopies with two leaves, the experimental sand transport capacity was reduced most when the leaves were highest above the surface even though they were intercepting saltation when in their lowest positions. As expected, canopy LAI was directly related to threshold velocity and inversely related to sand transport capacity. Total abrasion energy impacting the target soil containers located vertically in the canopy increased with wind speeds above the threshold. The height above the surface of maximum abrasion energy also increased with wind speed in the plant canopy, but remained nearly constant over the bare sand surface. When leaves were located nearest the surface, they modified the vertical abrasion profiles by deflecting a portion of the sand impact energy upward in the wind stream. Hence, it may be important to place test plants within a canopy of similar plants when conducting plant abrasion tests using sand to achieve results representative of plants in the interior of a field. In contrast, abrasion on inter-row flat soil containers was independent of wind speeds, but was slightly higher without a canopy compared to measurements in the canopy with a similar sand discharge.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014