Installing artificial macropores in degraded soils to enhance vertical infiltration and increase soil carbon content

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Of all terrestrial media (including vegetation and the atmosphere), soil is the largest store of carbon. Soils also have important functions such as water storage and plant support roles. However, at present, these characteristics do not fully function, because of, for example, climate-change-induced heavy rainfall would wash away the organic-rich surface soils. In this study, artificial macropores were introduced into exposed soil plots for the purpose of enhancing infiltration, and fibrous material was inserted to reinforce the macropore structure. As expected, the capillary force caused by the fibers drew surface water deeper into the soil profile before saturation. Additionally, the same capillary force promoted vertical transport, while micropores (matrix) enhanced horizontal flow. Our results show that infiltration was more effective in the fiber-containing macropores than in empty macropores. Additionally, our column experiments showed that artificial macropores reduced surface runoff when the rainfall intensities were 2, 4, and 20 mm · h−1 but not for 80 mm · h−1. In field experiments, soil moisture sensors installed at depths of 10, 30, and 50 cm responded well to rainfall, showing that artificial macropores were able to successfully introduce surface water into the soil profile. One year after the artificial macropores were installed, a field survey carried out to assess soil organic matter and plant growth showed that plant biomass had doubled and that there was a significant increase in soil carbon. This novel technique has many advantages as it mimics natural processes, is low cost, and has a simple structure.




Mori, Y., Fujihara, A., & Yamagishi, K. (2014). Installing artificial macropores in degraded soils to enhance vertical infiltration and increase soil carbon content. Progress in Earth and Planetary Science, 1(1).

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