UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Hydrologic responsiveness of a Lower Fraser Valley lowland soil Abbaspour, Karim


Soil degradation in the lowland soils of the Lower Fraser Valley area is an off-season (September-April) problem. The legacy of the degradation process is encountered every year in the form of ponding which delays farming operations such as cultivation and seeding. It is common for the lowland soils in west Delta to be left in a bare, loose, and therefore unstable state in the fall after harvest. As the result of raindrop impact on such a soil, a disaggregation process takes place which decreases the saturated hydraulic conductivity, the saturated water content, the air entry pressure head, and the water releasing ability of a soil. As a result of these changes the hydrologic responsiveness of a soil will decrease, decreasing its ability to allow rapid infiltration and drainage. The objective of this thesis was firstly, to investigate the causes of the soil structural degradation and secondly, to use some of the soil structural parameters to optimize the responsiveness of a soil and thirdly, to suggest a management model with the objective of improving the hydrologic responsiveness of a lowland soil. To fulfill the above objectives, in the first chapter, the process of soil degradation was studied on large undisturbed soil columns removed from two adjacent locations within an area of Ladner in west Delta, British Columbia. It was found that a disaggregation process caused by the impact of raindrops on a weakly aggregated soil was the main cause of a low hydrologic responsiveness at the beginning of the cultivation season. As a result of degradation of the soil surface layer, a surface seal can form with a saturated hydraulic conductivity in the order of 9.7x10⁻¹⁰ m s⁻¹. A surface seal can effectively decrease the infiltration rate, leading to the formation of a persistent pond which will make a soil untrafficable and unworkable. In the second chapter, a concept of "designer soil" was developed, where a set of "design hydrologic parameters" were identified for a partially hypothetical soil. A soil possessing hydrologic parameters better than the design parameters would therefore display a certain desired hydrologic responsiveness. In the third chapter, a descriptive management model was suggested with the objective of achieving the design parameters as identified in the second chapter.

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