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22 August 2017, Volume 9 Issue 5 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Orginal Article
Root length density distribution and associated soil water dynamics for tomato plants under furrow irrigation in a solar greenhouse
Rangjian QIU, Taisheng DU, Shaozhong KANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 637-650.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0064-9
Abstract ( 525 )   HTML ( 155 )     PDF (1130KB) ( 1514 )  

Furrow irrigation is a traditional widely-used irrigation method in the world. Understanding the dynamics of soil water distribution is essential to developing effective furrow irrigation strategies, especially in water-limited regions. The objectives of this study are to analyze root length density distribution and to explore soil water dynamics by simulating soil water content using a HYDRUS-2D model with consideration of root water uptake for furrow irrigated tomato plants in a solar greenhouse in Northwest China. Soil water contents were also in-situ observed by the ECH2O sensors from 4 June to 19 June and from 21 June to 4 July, 2012. Results showed that the root length density of tomato plants was concentrated in the 0-50 cm soil layers, and radiated 0-18 cm toward the furrow and 0-30 cm along the bed axis. Soil water content values simulated by the HYDRUS-2D model agreed well with those observed by the ECH2O sensors, with regression coefficient of 0.988, coefficient of determination of 0.89, and index of agreement of 0.97. The HYDRUS-2D model with the calibrated parameters was then applied to explore the optimal irrigation scheduling. Infrequent irrigation with a large amount of water for each irrigation event could result in 10%-18% of the irrigation water losses. Thus we recommend high irrigation frequency with a low amount of water for each irrigation event in greenhouses for arid region. The maximum high irrigation amount and the suitable irrigation interval required to avoid plant water stress and drainage water were 34 mm and 6 days, respectively, for given daily average transpiration rate of 4.0 mm/d. To sum up, the HYDRUS-2D model with consideration of root water uptake can be used to improve irrigation scheduling for furrow irrigated tomato plants in greenhouses in arid regions.

Sand-fixing characteristics of Carex brunnescens and its application with straw checkerboard technique in restoration of degraded alpine meadows
Jianjun KANG, Ming ZHAO, Yanrong TAN, li ZHU, Danhui BING, Yangdong ZHANG, Shengli TONG
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 651-665.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0066-7
Abstract ( 469 )   HTML ( 144 )     PDF (889KB) ( 1038 )  

Carex brunnescens (Pers.), a typical clonal species, is considered to be the only herb found to date that can develop on sand dunes in Maqu alpine region of northwestern China. However, the characteristics that C. brunnescens resists to harsh alpine environment have not been documented. In this study, we conducted a field investigation to determine the morphological, reproductive, and sand-fixing characteristics of C. brunnescens. Concomitantly, we transplanted the belowground rhizomes of C. brunnescens to sand dunes and compared the abilities to restore degraded alpine meadows among sand dunes that had no further treatment (SD+N), sand dunes that had straw checkerboard technique but no transplanted rhizomes of C. brunnescens (SD+SCT), and sand dunes that had both SCT and transplanted rhizomes of C. brunnescens (SD+SCT+P). We found that belowground vertical rhizomes and horizontal rhizomes (including branching rhizomes and main rhizomes) of C. brunnescens were highly developed and that population reproduction was dominated by horizontal rhizomes. C. brunnescens exhibited a significant sand-fixation effect under following conditions: population density was 145-156 ramets/m2, vegetation cover was 31.2%-39.3%, total length of belowground rhizomes was 11,223 cm/m2, total length of belowground first-order roots was 9161-10,524 cm/m2, fresh weight of aboveground part was 198.5-212.6 g/m2, and fresh weight of belowground part was 578.8-612.4 g/m2. It should be particularly noted that SD+SCT+P treatment (sand dunes that had both straw checkerboard technique and transplanted rhizomes of C. brunnescens) was the best and SD+N (sand dunes that had no further treatment) was the worst in terms of following biotic indicators: total number of reproductive ramets, total number of belowground rhizomes, and fresh weight of aboveground and belowground parts of C. brunnescens, contents of soil organic carbon, available nitrogen, microbial biomass carbon, and microbial biomass nitrogen. It implies that applying SCT in sand dunes and transplanting belowground rhizomes to sand dunes with SCT could improve both soil fertility and growth of C. brunnescens. These results suggest that the SCT-promoted high reproductive abilities of belowground rhizomes of C. brunnescens can successfully facilitate the establishment of ramets and can thus be an effective strategy to restore degraded vegetation in Maqu alpine region of northwestern China.

Changes of soil microbial communities during decomposition of straw residues under different land uses
Hong ZHANG, Wenxin XU, Yubao LI, Jialong LYU, Yingfei CAO, Wenxiang HE
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 666-677.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0027-1
Abstract ( 441 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (808KB) ( 1454 )  

Monitoring soil microbial communities can lead to better understanding of the transformation processes of organic carbon in soil. The present study investigated the changes of soil microbial communities during straw decomposition in three fields, i.e., cropland, peach orchard and vineyard. Straw decomposition was monitored for 360 d using a mesh-bag method. Soil microbial metabolic activity and functional diversity were measured using the Biolog-Eco system. In all three fields, dried straws with a smaller size decomposed faster than their fresh counterparts that had a larger size. Dried corn straw decomposed slower than dried soybean straw in the early and middle stages, while the reverse trend was found in the late stage. The cropland showed the highest increase in microbial metabolic activity during the straw decomposition, whereas the peach orchard showed the lowest. There was no significant change in the species dominance or evenness of soil microbial communities during the straw decomposition. However, the species richness fluctuated significantly, with the peach orchard showing the highest richness and the cropland the lowest. With different carbon sources, the peach orchard utilised carbon the most, followed by the cropland and the vineyard. In all three fields, carbon was utilized in following decreasing order: saccharides>amino acids>polymers>polyamines>carboxylic acids>aromatic compounds. In terms of carbon-source utilization, soil microbial communities in the peach orchard were less stable than those in the cropland. The metabolic activity and species dominance of soil microbial communities were negatively correlated with the straw residual percentage. Refractory components were primarily accumulated in the late stages, thus slowing down the straw decomposition. The results showed that dried and crushed corn straw was better for application in long-term fields. The diversity of soil microbial communities was more stable in cropland than in orchards during the straw decomposition.

Long-term agricultural activity affects anthropogenic soil on the Chinese Loess Plateau
Xiaoyun LI, Yiquan WANG, E REYNOLDS Mark, Xiaoping LI, Xinwei LU
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 678-687.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0026-2
Abstract ( 457 )   HTML ( 2 )     PDF (729KB) ( 1029 )  

Anthropogenic activities largely influence the soil quality of agricultural fields and the composition of soil. Samples of typical anthropogenic Loutu soil in the Guanzhong area of the Loess Plateau, Shaanxi Province, China were collected and measured for soil compaction, bulk density, total organic carbon (TOC), active organic carbon (AOC), and soil enzyme activities to investigate spatial variations in soil quality. The results indicate that soil compaction and bulk density increased with increasing distance from the farm village, whereas soil TOC, AOC, and soil enzyme activities firstly increased and subsequently decreased with increasing distance from the farm village. All of the tested parameters presented clear concentric distribution. Vertically, soil compaction and bulk density in the topsoil were lower than those in the subsoil, but all other tested parameters in the topsoil were significantly higher than those in the subsoil. In addition, there was a significant positive correlation between organic carbon content and enzyme activities, confirming that the spatial distribution of Loutu soil characteristics has been affected by long-term anthropogenic activities to some extent. The results of this study imply that the use of farmyard manure and appropriate deep plowing are important and effective ways to maintain and improve soil quality.

Effects of Caragana microphylla plantations on organic carbon sequestration in total and labile soil organic carbon fractions in the Horqin Sandy Land, northern China
Wen SHANG, Yuqiang LI, Xueyong ZHAO, Tonghui ZHANG, Quanlin MA, Jinnian TANG, Jing FENG, Na SU
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 688-700.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0063-x
Abstract ( 500 )   HTML ( 0 )     PDF (766KB) ( 1277 )  

Afforestation is conducive to soil carbon (C) sequestration in semi-arid regions. However, little is known about the effects of afforestation on sequestrations of total and labile soil organic carbon (SOC) fractions in semi-arid sandy lands. In the present study, we examined the effects of Caragana microphylla Lam. plantations with different ages (12- and 25-year-old) on sequestrations of total SOC as well as labile SOC fractions such as light fraction organic carbon (LFOC) and microbial biomass carbon (MBC). The analyzed samples were taken from soil depths of 0-5 and 5-15 cm under two shrub-related scenarios: under shrubs and between shrubs with moving sand dunes as control sites in the Horqin Sandy Land of northern China. The results showed that the concentrations and storages of total SOC at soil depths of 0-5 and 5-15 cm were higher in 12- and 25-year-old C. microphylla plantations than in moving sand dunes (i.e., control sites), with the highest value observed under shrubs in 25-year-old C. microphylla plantations. Furthermore, the concentrations and storages of LFOC and MBC showed similar patterns with those of total SOC at the same soil depth. The 12-year-old C. microphylla plantations had higher percentages of LFOC concentration to SOC concentration and MBC concentration to SOC concentration than the 25-year-old C. microphylla plantations and moving sand dunes at both soil depths. A significant positive correlation existed among SOC, LFOC, and MBC, implying that restoring the total and labile SOC fractions is possible by afforestation with C. microphylla shrubs in the Horqin Sandy Land. At soil depth of 0-15 cm, the accumulation rate of total SOC under shrubs was higher in young C. microphylla plantations (18.53 g C/(m2?a); 0-12 years) than in old C. microphylla plantations (16.24 g C/(m2?a); 12-25 years), and the accumulation rates of LFOC and MBC under shrubs and between shrubs were also higher in young C. microphylla plantations than in old C. microphylla plantations. It can be concluded that the establishment of C. microphylla in the Horqin Sandy Land may be a good mitigation strategy for SOC sequestration in the surface soils.

Applicability of five models to simulate water infiltration into soil with added biochar
Tongtong WANG, E STEWART Catherine, Jiangbo MA, Jiyong ZHENG, Xingchang ZHANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 701-711.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0025-3
Abstract ( 515 )   HTML ( 1 )     PDF (822KB) ( 1321 )  

As a soil amendment, biochar can reduce soil bulk density, increase soil porosity, and alter soil aggregates and thus affect the infiltration. Researchers have proposed and revised several theoretical models to describe the process of soil infiltration. Although these models have been successfully used to evaluate the soil infiltration in different scenarios in agricultural fields, little effort has been devoted to assess their performances in arid and semi-arid soils after the addition of biochar. A laboratory experiment was performed to study the infiltration characteristics of two typical Loess Plateau soils at three particle sizes (2-1, 1-0.25, and <0.25 mm) and five biochar application amounts (0, 10, 50, 100, and 150 g/kg). The performance of five models (i.e., the Philip model, Kostiakov model, Mezencev model, USDA-NRCS model, and Horton model) in simulating the infiltration process was then evaluated based on the adjusted coefficient of determination and a reduced Chi-Square test. Results indicated that the Horton model best simulated the water-infiltration process in an aeolian sandy soil with added biochar. However, the Mezencev model best simulated the infiltration process in a loamy clay soil (Eum-Orthic Anthrosol). The three-parameter model, i.e., Mezencev and Horton models can better describe the relationship between cumulative infiltration and infiltration time. In conclusion, biochar reduced the soil infiltration capacity of the aeolian sandy soil and increased that of the Eum-Orthic Anthrosol.

Investigating spatial and temporal variations of soil moisture content in an arid mining area using an improved thermal inertia model
Yuchen WANG, Zhengfu BIAN, Shaogang LEI, Yu ZHANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 712-726.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0065-8
Abstract ( 536 )   HTML ( 2 )     PDF (1229KB) ( 1379 )  

Mining operations can usually lead to environmental deteriorations. Underground mining activities could cause an extensive decrease in groundwater level and thus a dramatic variation in soil moisture content (SMC). In this study, the spatial and temporal variations of SMC from 2001 to 2015 at two spatial scales (i.e., the Shendong coal mining area and the Daliuta Coal Mine) were analyzed using an improved thermal inertia model with a long-term series of Landsat TM/OLI (TM=Thematic Mapper and OLI=Operational Land Imager) data. Our results show that at large spatial scale (the Shendong coal mining area), underground mining activities had insignificant negative impacts on SMC and that at small spatial scale (the Daliuta Coal Mine), underground mining activities had significant negative impacts on SMC. Trend analysis of SMC demonstrated that areas with decreasing trend of SMC were mainly distributed in the mined area, indicating that underground mining is a primary cause for the drying trend in the mining region in this arid environment.

An improved particle tracking velocimetry (PTV) technique to evaluate the velocity field of saltating particles
Chanwen JIANG, Zhibao DONG, Xiaoyan WANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 727-742.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0030-6
Abstract ( 543 )   HTML ( 1 )     PDF (1033KB) ( 1288 )  

Velocity is a key parameter characterizing the movement of saltating particles. High-speed photography is an efficient method to record the velocity. But, manually determining the relevant information from these photographs is quite laborious. However, particle tracking velocimetry (PTV) can be used to measure the instantaneous velocity in fluids using tracer particles. The tracer particles have three basic features in fluids: similar movement patterns within a small region, a uniform particle distribution, and high particle density. Unfortunately, the saltation of sand particles in air is a stochastic process, and PTV has not yet been able to accurately determine the velocity field in a cloud of blowing sand. The aim of the present study was to develop an improved PTV technique to measure the downwind (horizontal) and vertical velocities of saltating sand. To demonstrate the feasibility of this new technique, we used it to investigate two-dimensional saltation of particles above a loose sand surface in a wind tunnel. We analyzed the properties of the saltating particles, including the probability distribution of particle velocity, variations in the mean velocity as a function of height, and particle turbulence. By automating much of the analysis, the improved PTV method can satisfy the requirement for a large sample size and can measure the velocity field of blowing sand more accurately than previously-used techniques. The results shed new light on the complicated mechanisms involved in sand saltation.

Effects of wind guide plates on wind velocity acceleration and dune leveling: a case study in Ulan Buh Desert, China
Yanlong HAN, Yong GAO, Zhongju MENG, Xiaohong DANG, Xu JIA, Yanlong DING, Peng LI
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 743-752.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0101-8
Abstract ( 526 )   HTML ( 0 )     PDF (1005KB) ( 1411 )  

The areas used to be covered by shifting sand dunes have been reclaimed rapidly in recent years. However, it is a challenge to reclaim high sand dunes because it is rather costly to level the high dunes to gentle arable lands. In this study, a wind guide plate was used to change the characteristics of natural wind to level the sand dunes. The use of wind energy could significantly increase the efficiency of dune leveling and decrease the cost. Low wind velocity is a typical characteristic in Ulan Buh Desert of China where the average wind speed is much lower than the threshold velocity for sand movement. The experiment of this study was conducted to accelerate the wind velocity by a wind guide plate to level a sand dune. Results show that the threshold velocity for sand movement is 3.32 m/s at 10 cm above the sand surface in Ulan Buh Desert. A wind guide plate set at an angle less than 50° could significantly increase the wind velocity. The wind velocity could be accelerated up to the threshold velocity for sand movement behind a plate when the plate is at the angles of 20°, 25°, 35° and 40°. The most significant acceleration of wind velocity appears at 1.5 and 3.0 m behind the plate with an angle of 25°. An obvious wind velocity acceleration zone exists behind the wind guide plate when the angles are at 25°, 35°, 40° and 45°, with the most obvious zone under the angle of 45°. The results also show that the total amount of sand transferred over the experimental period increased by 6.1% under the effects of wind guide plates compared to the sand moved without wind guide plates. The results of the study will provide theoretical and practical supports for desert management in sand dune areas.

Detecting sand-dust storms using a wind-profiling radar
Minzhong WANG, Hu MING, Wen HUO, Hongxiong XU, Jiangang LI, Xingcai LI
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 753-762.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0031-5
Abstract ( 688 )   HTML ( 0 )     PDF (1089KB) ( 1393 )  

Sand-dust storm is a type of disastrous weather, typically occurring in arid and semi-arid climates. This study selected a region in the hinterlands of the Taklimakan Desert, called the Tazhong region, as the experimental area to quantitatively estimate the particle concentrations of sand-dust storms using the boundary layer wind-profiling radar. We thoroughly studied the radar echo signals and reflectivity factor features during the sand-dust storms. The results indicate that (1) under sand-dust storm conditions, boundary layer wind-profiling radar cannot capture the complete information regarding horizontal wind velocity and direction, but it can obtain the backscattering intensity of sand-dust storms; and (2) during sand-dust storms particle size distributions in the surface layer closely resemble log-normal distributions, with sand-dust particles sizes of 90-100 μm accounting for the maximum particle probability. Retrieved particle size distributions at heights of 600, 800, and 1000 m follow log-normal distributions, and the expected value of particle diameter decreases gradually with increasing height. From the perspective of orders of magnitude, the retrieved results for particle number concentrations and mass concentrations are consistent with previous aircraft-detected results, indicating that it is basically feasible to use boundary layer wind-profiling radar to quantitatively detect the particle concentrations of dust storms.

Monitoring recent changes in snow cover in Central Asia using improved MODIS snow-cover products
Jinping LIU, Wanchang ZHANG, Tie LIU
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 763-777.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0103-6
Abstract ( 551 )   HTML ( 1 )     PDF (1496KB) ( 1272 )  

Snow cover plays an important role in the fields of climatology and cryospheric science. Remotely-sensed data have been proven to be effective in monitoring snow covers. Improved methods to process the 8-day snow-cover products derived from MODIS Terra/Aqua data can dramatically increase the data quality and reduce noise. A five-step algorithm for removing cloud effects was designed to improve the quality of MODIS snow products, and the overall accuracy of the MODIS snow data without cloud (defined as cloud-free snow-cover dataset) was enhanced by more than 90% based on direct and indirect validation methods. The snow-cover frequency (SCF) and snow-cover rate (SCR) of Central Asia were analyzed from 2000 to 2015 using trend analysis and empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs). Over the plain regions, the SCF displayed a significant north-south declining trend with a rate of 0.03 per degree of latitude, and the SCR showed a similar north-south gradient. In the mountainous areas, the SCF significantly increased with altitude by 0.12 per kilometer. Within the study area, the SCF in 65% of the study area experienced an increasing trend, but only 4.3% of the SCF-increasing pixels passed a significance test. The remaining 35% of the area underwent a decreasing trend of SCF, but only 5.2% of the SCF-decreasing pixels passed a significance test. For the entire Central Asia, the inter-annual variations of snow-cover presented a slight and insignificant increase trend from 2000 to 2015. However, the change trends of snow cover are different between the plain and mountainous regions. That is, the annual mean SCR in the plain areas displayed an increasing trend, but a decreasing trend was found in the mountainous areas.

Evaluating land subsidence by field survey and D-InSAR technique in Damaneh City, Iran
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 778-789.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0104-5
Abstract ( 739 )   HTML ( 2 )     PDF (1708KB) ( 1599 )  

Based on the data from piezometers, well logs, geophysical surveys and the interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) technique, this study investigates the main causes of land subsidence in Damaneh City, Iran. The size, openings and direction of fissures were measured by micrometer and compass. The locations of fissures and wall cracks were determined by GPS. The geoelectrical data were used to determine the composition, thickness, depth and shape of lower parts of the aquifer. Groundwater fluctuations were evaluated by available piezometers. The InSAR technique was used to measure land deformation from space and to map the dense changes of surface displacements. The results indicate that the main cause of ground subsidence is the decline of groundwater heads and changes in composition and thickness of compressible lacustrine sediments. The subsidence map obtained from the radar data of ASAR sensor of ENVISAT satellite shows that the subsidence zone is mainly in northern city that is underlain by very thick fine sediments. The subsidence rates from March to December 2005 and from July 2011 to January 2012 are 6.7 and 7.0 cm/a, respectively. The results also show good correlations among the formation of earth features, decline in groundwater head and thickness of fine-grained sediments. We recommend that the groundwater withdrawal for agricultural and industrial sectors should be restricted and urban expansion in the northern part of the city should be constrained.

A new ecological control method for Pisha sandstone based on hydrophilic polyurethane
Zhishui LINAG, Zhiren WU, NOORI Mohammad, Caiqian YANG, Wenyi YAO
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (5): 790-796.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0102-7
Abstract ( 519 )   HTML ( 1 )     PDF (879KB) ( 1091 )  

The Pisha sandstone-coverd area is among the regions that suffer from the most severe water loss and soil erosion in China and is the main source of coarse sand for the Yellow River. This study demonstrated a new erosion control method using W-OH solution, a type of hydrophilic polyurethane, to prevent the Pisha sandstone from water erosion. We evaluated the comprehensive effects of W-OH on water erosion resistance and vegetation-growth promotion through simulated scouring tests and field demonstrations on the Ordos Plateau of China. The results of simulated scouring tests show that the water erosion resistance of W-OH treated area was excellent and the cumulative sediment yield reduction reached more than 99%. In the field demonstrations, the vegetation coverage reached approximately 95% in the consolidation-green area, and there was almost no shallow trenches on the entire slope in the treated area. In comparison, the control area experienced severe erosion with deep erosion gullies appeared on the slope and the vegetation coverage was less than 30%. This study illustrated that W-OH treatment can protect the Pisha sandstone from erosion and provide the vegetation seeds a chance to grow. Once the vegetation matured, the effects of consolidation-growth mutual promotion can efficiently and effectively improve the water erosion resistance and ecological restoration.