Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015NJ364B

Investigation into the hydrologic benefits of soil compaction management

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $10,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $24,269

Principal Investigators: Steven Yergeau, Louise Wootton

Abstract: Landscaping and horticultural practices have resulted in hydrological alterations to lands in New Jersey. Increased compaction of soils, especially during construction, and installing and maintaining residential landscapes accounts for a portion of these alterations since compacted soils act like impervious surfaces and reduce or prevent infiltration of precipitation into the ground. Many management techniques are available to alleviate compaction, such as not using heavy machinery on wet soils, mechanically breaking up compacted soils, replacing topsoil, or planting vegetation prior to the formation of soil compaction. The goal of these management practices is to restore natural hydrologic function to the local environment in a sustainable manner. The purpose of this study is to investigate the ability of select soil compaction management practices to restore hydrology to a more natural condition. Three sites on Georgian Court Universitys campus (Lakewood, NJ) undergoing mechanical disruption of soil compaction are the subject of the proposed investigation. Measurements will be gathered to determine the water balance of each site before, during, and after soil management efforts. These measurements include precipitation, infiltration rate using an infiltrometer, evapotranspiration from lysimeters, and depth to soil compaction using a static cone penetrometer. All data will be used to calculate a local water budget to be compared to literature-derived water budgets for natural environments. Comparable sites for this management practice will undergo no decompaction and have the same suite of measurements collected and calculations performed for evaluative purposes.