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Journal Articles CATENA Year : 2022

Soil moisture and hysteresis affect both magnitude and efficiency of root reinforcement

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Abstract

Plant roots can protect soil against shallow landslides. The mechanics of rooted soil failure under varying soil water content remain poorly understood. The aim of our study was to characterize the impact of soil water content on root mechanical traits and reinforcement to soil. One-year-old Symplocos setchuensis trees were replanted in shear boxes (0.4 × 0.4 × 0.5 m3), which were placed in a canopy gap on Jinyun Mountain, Chongqing, China. After three years of vegetation growth, root mechanical measurements and soil direct shear tests were performed at five levels of volumetric soil water content varying from 14.9 to 44.4 %, by either wetting or drying the soil. For each shear box, we measured soil shear strength, root area ratio, root tensile force, root water content, and root failure mode (slippage versus breakage) during or after the shearing process. Root area ratio and root failure modes were examined for different root diameter classes. With increasing volumetric soil water content, we found a persistent decrease in root tensile strength (ca. 15 %) and an increase in root water content (ca. 11 %), although the dependence on volumetric soil water content was not statistically significant for certain soil water content levels. We found that both additional shear strength of rooted soil and proportion of root failure in breakage increased first and then decreased, with peak values occurring at a soil water content of ca. 22 %. Altered root tensile force (68.0 % contribution to root reinforcement variation) and the change in proportion of root failure modes (breakage or slippage; 8.4 % contribution to root reinforcement variation) jointly contribute to the negative impact of soil water on observed root reinforcement. Soil shear strength was positively correlated with root area ratio and their relationship was linear. At high soil water content (>28 %), the slope of the linear relationship decreased rapidly with increasing soil water content, suggesting that increasing root biomass is not effective for enhancing root reinforcement in very wet soil conditions. Regarding hysteresis, root reinforcement magnitude and efficiency were higher in the drying process than in the wetting process when soil moisture was low. Our results highlight the vital role of soil water features in affecting soil-root mechanical interactions and such effects should be taken into account in future root reinforcement modelling and assessment
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Dates and versions

hal-03814891 , version 1 (14-10-2022)

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Jinqi Zhu, Zhun Mao, Yunqi Wang, Yujie Wang, Tong Li, et al.. Soil moisture and hysteresis affect both magnitude and efficiency of root reinforcement. CATENA, 2022, 219, pp.106574. ⟨10.1016/j.catena.2022.106574⟩. ⟨hal-03814891⟩
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