The soil and plants branch of the CIBR research team investigates the effects on soil health and groundwater quality from biosolids land application, and develops sustainable management practices to best reuse biosolids, enhancing soil integrity for future generations. The team also look into benefits and risks associated with other waste reuse such as greywater use on land. 

Soil and plant experimental studies

Lysimeter studies

lysimeter 300pxLysimeter's are one way of investigating soil health. Lysimeters are devices, typically tanks or containers, that define a specific boundary to contain soil and water and permit measurement of either the soil- water balance or the volume of water percolating vertically and/or its quality.

Lysimeter's contain intact soil cores collected from the study environment. These lysimeters then serve as a small-scale field replication to observe how soil health changes when irrigated or fertilised with various forms of wastewater effluent, greywater or biosolids. The lysimeters receive measured amounts of irrigation, rainfall, and effluent. Lysimeters drain into a container allowing regular determination of the leaching volume, chemical composition, and pathogen load.

The soil core itself can be destructively harvested to assess potential chemical and pathogen contamination within the soil and particularly within each soil horizon to further understand natural attenuation within soil. 

Alternatively, plants can be grown in small lysimeters to study the effect that plant growth has on soil biochemistry when soil is exposed to biowaste.

Field site studies 

Once preliminary studies in either laboratory, greenhouse or lysimeter studies have been performed the experiments are then moved in to field sites, so that the findings seen in the small scale studies can be analysed on a larger scale, but also real- world and real-time conditions. 

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