Plants and Mycorrhizal Fungi in Wind Erosion Control

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Plants and Mycorrhizal Fungi in Wind Erosion Control

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Plants and Mycorrhizal Fungi in Wind Erosion Control

  1. 1. Plants and Mycorrhizal Fungi in Wind Erosion Control Katrin Burri, Christof Gromke, Frank Graf WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, Switzerland International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC, Davos, 2010
  2. 2. Plants and Mycorrhizal Fungi in Wind Erosion Control <ul><li>Introduction: - Wind erosion and desertification - Plants and mycorrhizal fungi 2) Experimental investigations: a) Wind erosion within and above vegetation canopies: A wind tunnel study with live plants b) Plant growth experiment c) Wind tunnel experiments with mycorrhizal fungi 3) Conclusions </li></ul>
  3. 3. Introduction: Wind erosion and desertification Wind erosion gradually converts fertile land into deserts
  4. 4. Natural causes: - drought - strong wind - sparse vegetation What are the causes of wind erosion and desertification? Anthropogenic causes: - deforestation, fuelwood-gathering - overgrazing - construction activities
  5. 5. - loss of productive soil - loss of biodiversity - air pollution by mineral fine dust What are the consequences of wind erosion and desertification? Human health, lung diseases Global radiation balance, climate change
  6. 6. What can be done to stop wind erosion and desertification? ► re-establishing a protective vegetation cover
  7. 7. ► poor plant growth and low survival rate due to adverse soil conditions Problem of revegetation measures
  8. 8. What can be done to improve the success of revegetation measures? ► Common measures: irrigation, windbreak walls, fertilizing
  9. 9. ► Our approach: mycorrhizal fungi What can be done to improve the success of revegetation measures? improvement of plant growth improvement of soil structure
  10. 10. Mycorrhizal fungi <ul><li>form a symbiosis with almost all plant species </li></ul><ul><li>are connected to the plant roots </li></ul><ul><li>improve plant nutrition and soil structure </li></ul><ul><li>occur abundantly in healthy soil but lack in degraded soils </li></ul>
  11. 11. Better understanding of the protective effect of plants and mycorrhizal fungi against wind erosion Overall project goal
  12. 12. Wind erosion within and above vegetation canopies: A wind tunnel study with live plants
  13. 13. 0 plants / m 2 24 plants / m 2 91 plants / m 2 5 plants / m 2 Experimental setup Grass species: Lolium perenne Quartz sand with diameters 0.4-0.8 mm
  14. 14. <ul><li>to compare wind erosion processes in four levels of grass canopy density: - total sediment mass flux - fine dust concentration in the air (PM 10 ) 2) to test whether colored quartz sand is useful for visualizing aeolian sand deposition patterns </li></ul>Research objectives
  15. 15. Wind 8 m test section Instrumentation in the wind tunnel Sediment sampler with 60 openings Fine dust measurements
  16. 16. 0 plants / m 2 24 plants / m 2 91 plants / m 2 5 plants / m 2 Experimental setup unplanted low vegetation density medium vegetation density high vegetation density
  17. 17. Sediment mass flux and fine dust concentration Plants per square meter Total sediment mass flux [kg m -2 min -1 ] PM 10 concentration [mg/m 3 ] Sediment mass flux Fine dust concentration 91 24 0
  18. 18. Visualizing erosion and deposition patterns using colored quartz sand Wind
  19. 19. Plant growth experiment under simulated eroded soil conditions
  20. 20. - To test whether mycorrhizal fungi improve survival rate and vitality of plants grown in dry sandy substrate Research objectives
  21. 21. Experimental setup <ul><li>4 alpine grass species are grown in a laboratory climate chamber - half of the grasses are inoculated with a mycorrhizal fungus - 4 f ine-grained mineral sands with low water retention capacity, high bulk density and a lack of organic matter - sparse watering </li></ul>► Assessment of plant biomass and vitality after a growth period of 3 months Experimental setup
  22. 22. Preliminary results -29.4 -0.8 20.6 11.9 Agrostis capillaris -17.0 -19.1 9.7 3.6 Poa violacea -4.0 -1.3 8.6 0.0 Festuca supina -8.3 -0.8 20.7 5.2 Poa alpina Without drought With drought Without drought With drought Decrease in mortality [%] Increase in vitality [%]
  23. 23. Wind tunnel experiments with mycorrhizal fungi
  24. 24. - To test whether mycorrhizal fungi reduce the wind erodibility of soil Research objectives
  25. 25. Experimental setup <ul><li>wind tunnel experiments with mycorrhized and non-mycorrhized root balls of different plant species </li></ul>Wind ► measurements of… - erosion (weight loss of the root ball during wind tunnel experiment) - fine dust concentration in the air behind the root ball
  26. 26. Conclusions ► Our laboratory experiments indicate that plants and mycorrhizal fungi offer a promising way to restore soils degraded by wind erosion and desertification. ► The success of revegetation measures may be improved by adding mycorrhizal fungi to the soil.
  27. 27. Thank you for your attention!

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