Monday, November 13, 2006 - 11:50 AM

Using Existing Science to Solve New Plant Water Use Requirements.

Victor L. Hauser, Consultant, 13214 Hunters Breeze, San Antonio, TX 78230

Modern society discards mountains of waste into landfills and water percolating through the waste could cause substantial pollution of ground water.  As a result, each landfill requires a cover.  Conventional covers are expensive and may have a short life; therefore, a new landfill cover is needed that is less costly and is self sustaining for many decades or centuries.  The evapotranspiration (ET) landfill cover was recently developed to meet that need.  It is less costly, has a long expected life, can protect the environment, and it is self renewing.  A major requirement for a landfill cover is to control the movement of precipitation into the waste.  The ET cover controls water by storing it within a soil cover until plants can empty the reservoir, a well known process.  Natural soils often hold substantial amounts of water in the lower half of the root zone at the end of the growing season; therefore, their capacity to store new water is limited.  However, success with the ET cover requires that the entire soil water reservoir be as nearly empty as possible.  For possibly the first time, the resources are available to optimize plant growth and water use.  At least two important issues require optimization: (1) maximization of root growth, and (2) a plant community that provides self renewing, robust plant growth capable of using all available water.  The concept was developed and proven using available science.  In addition to concept development and proof, implementation required a design model.  An existing agricultural design model was tested and found adequate for the task.  This work demonstrates that practical solutions to current problems may be found through research that uses existing science.  We should fully utilize the storehouse of scientific knowledge provided to us by our professional ancestors!