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The effectiveness of commercially available wetting agents for combating on-site soil water repellency in sandy soils

Gross, A., Mohamed, R.M.S.R., Anda, M.ORCID: 0000-0001-7398-4192, Byrne, J. and Ho, G.ORCID: 0000-0001-9190-8812 (2011) The effectiveness of commercially available wetting agents for combating on-site soil water repellency in sandy soils. In: International Conference on Integrated Water Management, 2 - 5 February 2011, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia

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Abstract

Soil water repellency (hydrophobia) is a widespread phenomenon affecting millions of hectares of mostly dry soils throughout the world. Soil hydrophobia results in uneven water distribution in the soil profile, poor plant performance and patchy growth. The most common strategy for alleviating soil water repellency in urban areas (e.g. landscape, gardens and ovals) is application of wetting agents most of which are surfactant based. Inspired by international research on surfactant based detergents, recent laboratory experiments were conducted at Murdoch University to test the efficacy of leading locally available commercial wetting agent products and their effect in sand. Results from capillary rise and double ring infiltrometer tests indicate that the presence of different wetting agents in sandy soils may enhance water infiltration at time of application but in matter of days often increase soil water repellency rather than reducing it. It is suggested that surfactant molecules in the wetting agents are adsorbed on the sand particles in a similar way to the organic hydrophobic materials that are coating them. The interaction between the surfactants and soil particles seem to be the key to a better understanding of these observations and further investigation is needed.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
United Nations SDGs: Goal 13: Climate Action
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/52700
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