Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Session 2B: "Soil & Water: Mitigating Environmental Impact"
Monday, 07/Aug/2017:
3:30pm - 4:50pm

Session Chair: Ramanathan Sri Ranjan
Location: Room 3

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3:30pm - 3:50pm

Effect of six engineered biochars on greenhouse gas emissions from a loamy sand and a silt loam

Patrick Brassard1,2, Stéphane Godbout1, Joahnn Palacios1, Patrick Dubé1, Vijaya Raghavan2

1Research and Development Institute for the Agri-Environment (IRDA); 2Department of Bioresource Engineering, McGill University

Biochar produced from the pyrolysis of agricultural and forest biomasses have the potential to sequester carbon in soil and to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The goal of this research study was to evaluate the effect of engineered biochars produced from the pyrolysis of agricultural and forest biomasses on soil properties and GHG emissions. A 45-days incubation study was carried out, in which two types of soil (loamy sand and silt loam) were mixed with six different engineered biochars at a dose of 2% in 1 liter jars. The engineered biochars were produced from woody biomass, switchgrass and the solid fraction of pig manure (SFPM) in a vertical auger reactor using different pyrolysis operating parameters determined in previous experiments. At the beginning of the incubation, soil moisture content was adjusted at 80% WFPS (water-filled pore space) with a solution of ammonium nitrate that corresponds to a dose of 170 kg of nitrogen per hectare. Gas samples were taken to monitor N2O and CO2 emissions on the first three days, and then weekly. When compared to control (soil without biochar), N2O emissions decreased only in the silt loam amended with wood and switchgrass biochar; these four biochar treatment showed a high C/N ratio (> 30). Biochar produced from wood at high temperature (644°C), with low O/Corg and H/Corg ratios (0.13 and 0.58, respectively), did not increase CO2 emissions in both soils, indicating high biochar carbon stability. Results of this study demonstrated that both biochar and soil properties have an impact on N2O and CO2 emissions.

3:50pm - 4:10pm

An improved method to map soil salinity using EM surveys

Jerrold Rentz, Ramanathan Sri Ranjan

University of Manitoba, Canada

Electromagnetic Induction surveys (EM surveys) are a commonly used method in evaluating various soil properties including but not limited to soil salinity. Electromagnetic induction surveys were carried out on 13 test sites. To calibrate the apparent conductivity (ECa) measurements obtained by the EM survey, each site was sampled at three locations to a depth of 1.2 m using a hand auger with soil samples being retrieved every 0.15 m. A total of 542 soil samples were analyzed for moisture content and ECe to create an accurate soil salinity and moisture content profile. Using statistical analysis the EM data from each test site was calibrated using a combination of ECe and moisture content. Historically, the common calibration method involves the use of only saturated paste extract. Data showing how EM surveys can be used to accurately map soil salinity will be presented.

4:10pm - 4:30pm

Flood History Analysis and Socioeconomic Implications of Flooding for Indigenous Canadian Communities

Kelsie Shae McNeill, Ashutosh Singh, Andrew Binns

University of Guelph, Canada

Flooding poses a significant threat to the water security of indigenous communities across Canada. The primary objective of this study is to explore the issue of flooding in indigenous communities across Canada in order to characterize the severity of the problem and investigate the socioeconomic consequences. The issue is quantified and illustrated by assembling a map that depicts the locations and number of floods that occurred in these communities between January 2006 and November 2016. The results of this study reveal that during this period approximately 67 First Nations communities in Canada experienced close to 100 occurrences of flooding, and about half of these floods occurred in Manitoba or Ontario. This analysis is used to propose a framework to identify factors responsible for flooding in these communities, and several of these factors become the focus for further investigation in the Northern Ontario First Nations community of Kashechewan, which has been especially susceptible to flooding. Stream flow in the adjacent Albany River is analyzed over this period to provide a preliminary assessment tool to identify flood risk. To assess the potential socioeconomic impact of flooding in this community, direct consequences of floods are analyzed and linked to potential indirect impacts to health and security. It was found that the community was disrupted by evacuations due to flood warnings during seven of the eleven years over 2006-2016, while property and infrastructure damage, disruptions to education and medical services and mental health issues are consequences of the high flood risk.

4:30pm - 4:50pm

Effect of overhead irrigation on corn yield and quality under shallow water table conditions

Haider Abbas, Ramanathan Sri Ranjan

University of Manitoba, Canada

Corn is a moisture sensitive crop and drought conditions during critical growth stages affect kernel yield and quality. The objective of this field research was to determine the impact of water contribution from shallow water table under overhead irrigation and no irrigation treatments on corn yield, in a fine sandy loam soil in Southern Manitoba. The study was conducted at two different sites (Canada Manitoba Crop Diversification Centre (CMCDC), and Hespler Farms). Compared to no irrigation treatment, the overhead-irrigated plots had a 16% (p = 0.021) and 9% (p = 0.025) significantly higher yield at CMCDC and Hespler sites, respectively. The kernel quality, based on kernels passing through 14/64-mesh size, in overhead-irrigated plots was found to be significantly better in overhead-irrigated plots at CMCDC (p = 0.011) and Hespler (p = 0.003) sites compared to the non-irrigated treatment. The increased unsaturated hydraulic conductivity due to increased water content of the soil beneath the root zone in the irrigated treatment led to an increased upward migration of water from the shallow water table compared to the upward migration in the non-irrigated treatment. In the irrigated treatment, the irrigation water quality was better than the quality of the water supplied from the water table because groundwater had high concentration of nitrate (55 ppm). However, in the non-irrigated treatment, the precipitation alone was not sufficient to dilute the poor quality water from the water table leading to lower yield and poor kernel quality.

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