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Digging Deeper: 14 Questions & Answers about SWRT
How much additional soil water can be retained by soils improved by SWRT?
Soil water contents within and above SWRT designed and modeled membranes double for prolonged periods of time, following each rainfall or supplemental irrigation, greatly reducing water, labor, and nutrient leaching costs.
Where are these additional soil water contents retained in the soil profile?
Greater quantities of plant-available soil water are retained within and directly above the SWRT membranes located among root zone regions of most crops.
What are the installation depths of most SWRT membranes?
Water and nutrient-saving SWRT membrane depths can be installed into most soils at depths ranging between 60 cm (24 in) and 45 cm (18 in). Depths of membrane placement depend upon the textural coarseness and soil pore size distributions of the sand directly below and within crop root profiles.
Is there an acceptable range of polymer materials used to develop SWRT membranes?
No, SWRT membranes are specifically developed, field tested and patented impermeable membranes, which best respond to their handling during installation. Dow Corporation has quantified to remain impermeable in soils for at least 48 and possibly 100’s of years. As only UV light depolymerizes and ages of these patented PE-based membranes.
What are the installation costs per acre of the SWRT polymers?
SWRT membrane installation costs depend upon the soil depths and conditions, installation time, fluctuating fuel and prices and costs of installer’s additional labor and millage charges. Years to return on investments for membrane installations range from a couple of seasons, for high-value fruits and vegetables, to 9 -11 years for many row crops.
How do SWRT water saving membranes influence plant growth and yields?
SWRT membranes reduce deep leaching of water and nutrients by approximately 50% and 30%, depending upon crop type, irrigation, rainfall, and fertilization management. Additional soil water in crop root zones continuously enhance plant metabolic and physiologic growth and production in a positive manner. Plants are able to proportion less of their photosynthetic energy to root growth and more to the shoot and crop yield components.
Will soil water contents inside the contoured membranes prohibit root growth or cause greater root disease?
SWRT membranes always increase the most-healthy, totally-white, long-life layers of roots located in soils located above and between these soil water conservation SWRT membranes located directly below plants. Rapid drainage of soil water from inside SWRT U-shaped membranes, engineered to immediately drain as internal soil water contents approach 22%. These optimal water and nutrient field root-zone well-aerated, continuously draining systems stabilize field-wide hydroponics across entire areas of SWRT installation.
Can plants with tap roots be inhibited by SWRT water saving membranes?
No, accumulations of totally white, long-lived healthy roots, observed by minirhizotron cameras, and end of crop examinations. SWRT water retaining membranes are spatially distributed with adequate space for dominate tap and lateral root growth between membranes. Initially, the greater soil water retained by SWRT membranes will promote seedling growth immediately following transplanting. The 100% survival transplanted vegetable seedlings in SWRT improved soils develop many totally white, long-lived healthy roots, observed by minirhizotron cameras, and end of crop examinations. Orchard seedlings requiring larger primary deep anchor larger roots are planted in established spaces between each field pass of 4 chisels. Initially, all medium and fine roots grow horizontally along and occasionally grow vertically between without penetrating SWRT membranes.
Will SWRT membranes increase or decrease the use of fertilizer?
SWRT membranes significantly reduce all N/P/K and micronutrient fertilizers leaching by 40 to 60%. Crop protection products and plant growth regulators will also be retained in the root zone of plants. Greater plant growth on SWRT treated sands results from greater availability of water and nutrients that lead to zero drought periods for the duration of the crop that is properly irrigated. There will likely be a need for increasing fertilizer as yield increases exceed 200 to 500%, but the rates of nutrients necessary per unit of yield will be less than non-SWRT fields. If rainfall and/or supplemental irrigation meet the growth and transpiration needs for plant growth, especially as plant populations are increased, then prescription-based soil water and nutrient management systems can be added without contaminating groundwater.
Can plant populations on highly permeable soils be increased when the water and nutrient concentrations in the root zone are improved by SWRT membranes?
Yes, field studies have demonstrated how SWRT membrane-retained highly available soil water and nutrients are not leached below root systems, corn and tomato populations could be increased 3 to 6-fold. Increased plant populations dramatically improved yields and the production of aboveground biomass per acre.
Are microbial and other soil biota modified by SWRT processes?
Current literature suggests all soil ecology is modified by soil water contents, C and N sources, and relative aerobic/anerobic soil. However, since soil organic matter is very low in most sandy soil types and SWRT improvements retain optimal soil water and oxygen contents, alterations in soil microbial and mesofauna ecologies changed very little during 6-year trials of intensive crop production at the research site in Michigan. Microbial genetic measurements clearly identify all bacterial and fungal RNA/DNA remain aerobic, with no recoverable anaerobic microbes were isolated. During the first 5 to 10 years, we anticipate very positive modifications in the biodegradation of soil contaminants, dilution of soil salinity, increased soil carbon sequestration and zero soil emissions of anaerobic methane and nitrous oxide greenhouse gases.
How does reduced soil drainage influence soil salinity?
Saline sands transformed by SWRT Solutions, have been shown to prohibit the upward movement of salts into crop rhizospheres. On-farm studies have identified low-saline irrigation water combined with crop uptake, dramatically reduces root zone salinity. Properly installed SWRT membranes will reduce the upward migration and surface evaporation of saline soil solutions originating from subsoils. The flushing of saline soil solutions with natural rainfall combined with low saline irrigation water have significantly reduced soil rootzone salinity above SWRT membranes
Can SWRT membrane enhancements of soil water retention be used to establish sustainable production in arid and semiarid regions?
Yes, SWRT membranes installed in arid rainfed regions of west Texas increased cotton 504%. Both irrigated and non-irrigated manually installed SWRT membranes in arid equatorial Kenya increased corn 3 to 6-fold and vegetables 3-fold. SWRT can optimize the limited rainfall that occurs in these types of regions.
Is effective SWRT membrane installation limited only to sand soils?
No, SWRT water saving membranes are highly effective for doubling soil water retaining capacity on all highly permeable Oxisols, Alfisols, Spodisols and other coarse-textured soils will benefit plant growth and production. Water conservation SWRT can also be used to optimize soil water, nutrient and oxygen levels on sandy knoll soils in loam, silt loam and silty clay loam soil types. Although additional engineering of the drainage capacities of SWRT membranes is required for finer textured soils in arid regions, water and nutrient holding capacities of these soils can be improved by 100 to 200%. These increased water-holding capacities can be regulated for crops requiring flooded soil water conditions for lowland saturated soil for rice production. Historically, SWRT-like barriers increased flooded rice production by an average of 408% for each of 3 crops grown annually.