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Kertesz A.,Hungarian Academy of Sciences | Szalai Z.,Hungarian Academy of Sciences | Jakab G.,Hungarian Academy of Sciences | Toth A.,Hungarian Academy of Sciences | And 8 more authors.
Land Degradation and Development | Year: 2011

Geotextiles have an important influence on soil moisture conditions. It is well known that the application of geotextiles increases soil moisture content of the soil, but there is a lack of information on how the different mats keep the soil moisture. The objective of this paper is to present the effect of biological geotextiles on soil moisture dynamics of the topsoil and to compare the effectiveness of various geotextiles in conserving soil moisture as well as comparing their role in soil moisture dynamics in the different climatic zones. Soil moisture measurements were carried out in the framework of the BORASSUS project at six study sites in Brazil, China, Hungary, Lithuania, Thailand and Vietnam. Soil moisture was measured by gravimetric method. All together six different kinds of biological geotextiles (Borassus, Buriti, Bamboo, Jute, Maize and Rice) and one synthetic geotextile were used. To study soil moisture dynamics of the geotextiles applied in Hungary 1000cm 3 soil monoliths were covered by Jute, Buriti and Borassus mats. The effects of natural rainfall events on soils and geotextiles were examined in detail. According to the results of this paper there is not much difference concerning the effect of biological geotextiles made from various materials on soil moisture conservation. There are, however, remarkable differences in conserving soil moisture according to the geographical location of the study sites. The favourable effect of geotextiles on soil moisture conservation could be statistically justified if annual precipitation amount is over 700mm and the annual temperature range is below 28°C. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Smets T.,Catholic University of Leuven | Poesen J.,Catholic University of Leuven | Bhattacharyya R.,University of Wolverhampton | Fullen M.A.,University of Wolverhampton | And 13 more authors.
Land Degradation and Development | Year: 2011

Preliminary investigations suggest biological geotextiles could be an effective and inexpensive soil conservation method, with enormous global potential. However, limited quantitative data are available on the erosion-reducing effects of biological geotextiles. Therefore, the objective is to evaluate the effectiveness of biological geotextiles in reducing runoff and soil loss under controlled laboratory conditions and under field conditions reflecting continental, temperate and tropical environments. In laboratory experiments, interrill runoff, interrill erosion and concentrated flow erosion were simulated using various rainfall intensities, flow shear stresses and slope gradients. Field plot data on the effects of biological geotextiles on sheet and rill erosion were collected in several countries (UK, Hungary, Lithuania, South Africa, Brazil, China and Thailand) under natural rainfall. Overall, based on the field plot data, the tested biological geotextiles reduce runoff depth and soil loss rates on average by 46 per cent and 79 per cent, respectively, compared to the values for bare soil. For the field and laboratory data of all tested geotextiles combined, no significant difference in relative runoff depth between field measurements and interrill laboratory experiments is observed. However, relative soil loss rate for the concentrated flow laboratory experiments are significantly higher compared to the interrill laboratory experiments and the field plot measurements. Although this study points to some shortcomings of conducting laboratory experiments to represent true field conditions, it can be concluded that the range and the mean relative runoff depth and soil loss rate as observed with the field measurements is similar to those as observed with the interrill laboratory experiments. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd..

Fullen M.A.,University of Wolverhampton | Subedi M.,University of Wolverhampton | Booth C.A.,University of Wolverhampton | Sarsby R.W.,University of Wolverhampton | And 42 more authors.
Land Degradation and Development | Year: 2011

Field and laboratory studies indicate that utilisation of biological geotextiles constructed from palm-leaves and other selected organic materials are an effective, sustainable and economically viable soil conservation technique. The three-year plus (1 July 2005-28 February 2009) EU-funded BORASSUS Project (contract no. INCO-CT-2005-510745) evaluated the long-term effectiveness of biological geotextiles in controlling soil erosion and assessing their sustainability and economic viability. These studies progressed in ten countries, both in the 'industrial north' (in Europe) and in the 'developing south' (Africa, South America and South East Asia). The studied countries in the 'developing south' included Brazil, China, The Gambia, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam. The 'industrial north' countries included Belgium, Hungary, Lithuania and the UK. The main findings of these studies are summarised in this paper and thematic information is presented in the other four papers in this Special Issue. Biological geotextiles offer potentially novel bioengineering solutions to environmental problems, including technologies for soil conservation, sustainable plant production and use of indigenous plants, improved ecosystem management by decreasing deforestation, improving agroforestry and cost-effective biogeotextile applications in diverse environments. Biogeotextiles may provide socio-economic platforms for sustainable development and the benefits for developing countries may include poverty alleviation, engagement of local people as stakeholders, employment for disadvantaged groups, small and medium enterprise (SME) development, earning hard currency, environmental education and local community involvement in land reclamation and environmental education programmes. These benefits are achieved through: (i) promotion of sustainable and environmentally friendly palm-agriculture to discourage deforestation, promoting both reforestation and agroforestry; (ii) construction of biogeotextiles enabling development of a rural labour-intensive industry, particularly encouraging employment of socially disadvantaged groups and (iii) export of biogeotextiles to industrialised countries could earn hard currency for developing economies, based on the principles of fair trade. Research and development activities of the BORASSUS Project have improved our knowledge on the effect of biogeotextile mats on the micro- and macro-soil environments and at larger scales through controlled laboratory and field experiments in diverse environments. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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