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Subsurface Soil Drainage in Egypt

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CMES Deputy Director Ronny Berndtsson has co-authored the article "Noninvasive Monitoring of Subsurface Soil Conditions to Evaluate the Efficacy of Mole Drain in Heavy Clay Soils" together with Akram Aziz (Port Said University), Tamer Attia (Port Said University), Yasser Hamed (Port Said University) and Tarek Selim (Port Said University). The article is published in the journal Water.

Soil degradation and low productivity are among the major agricultural problems facing farmers of the newly reclaimed agricultural area in the Nile Delta region, Egypt. High content of clay and silt characterizes the soil texture of all farms in the area, while farmers still rely on the traditional mole drainage (MD) system to reduce the salinity of the farm soil. We present a comparison of innovative geo-resistivity methods to evaluate mole drains and the salinity affected clay soils. Geoelectrical surveys were conducted on three newly reclaimed farms to image the subsurface soil drainage conditions and to evaluate the efficiency of using the traditional MD systems in these heavy clay environments. The surveys included measuring the natural spontaneous potential (SP), apparent resistivity gradient (RG), and electrical resistivity tomography (ERT). Integrating the results of the three methods reduced the ambiguous interpretation of the inverted ERT models and allowed us to determine the subsurface soil structure. The inverted ERT models were suitable for locating the buried MDs and delineating the upper surface of the undisturbed clay beds. The proximity of these layers to the topsoil reduces the role played by MDs in draining the soil in the first farm and prevents the growth of deep-rooted plants in the second farm. Time-lapse ERT measurements on the third farm revealed a defect in its drainage network where the slope of the clay beds opposes the main direction of the MDs. That has completely obstructed the drainage system of the farm and caused waterlogging. The presented geo-resistivity methods show that integrated models can be used to improve the assessment of in situ sub-surface drainage in clay-rich soils.

Keywords: water logging, resistivity gradient, ERT, electrical conductivity, soil drainage

Read the article here

Ronny Berndtsson's research profile