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Investigation into the factors affecting the rate of infiltration of soils with varying agricultural land uses.

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Geography Investigation Investigation into the factors affecting the rate of infiltration of soils with varying agricultural land uses. Content Location 2 Introduction 5 Hypothesis 5 Data requirements. 6 Fieldwork 6 Schedule: 6 Saturday 6th to Sunday 7th research of Internet and of textbooks and investigation planning. 6 Risk assessment of fieldwork 7 Method of Data Collection 7 Use of measuring equipment. 7 Sampling Methods 8 Results 9 Analysis 13 Conclusion 15 Evaluation 16 Bibliography 16 The key question that this study will investigate is: What factors affecting the rate of infiltration in varying agricultural land uses? What relationship is there between these factors and the rate of infiltration? Introduction The effects of agriculture on soil structure can range from minor alterations to significant changes, and can result in serious problems such as erosion or water logging. In counties where agriculture has replaced rainforest, desertification can rapidly occur because of the poor structure of rainforest soils. In more temperate climates the effects are less dramatic but still occur for example in areas such as East Anglia repeated cultivation has lead to the removal of organic matter and structure resulting in significant erosion by the wind and rain. I intend to investigate the effects of various agricultural land uses on the infiltration rates of soils. This will allow comparisons to be made with the natural biome therefore indicating any changes that have occurred and allow the major factors, which affect the rate of infiltration. Location The study will be carried out on a mixed farm near Exeter in Devon in the Southwest of the UK. Map1 Map 2 shows the boundary of the farm. Map 3 showing local geology Index for map 3 Introduction There are many factors which affect the infiltration rate of soils such as the composition of the soil its self, i.e. the percent of each of the 3 major inorganic components which are sand, clay and silt in order of particle size. ...read more.


At each of the 12 different locations 3 of each sets of data were collected and average set of results generated. Results Table 1 shows the average rate of infiltration at each minute interval at each location. Rate of infiltration mm/min at time 1min 2min 3min 4min Location 1 6 6 4 3 Location 2 4 3 2 1 Location 3 38 28 24 22 Location 4 9 11 12 12 Location 5 12 5 3 2 Location 6 18 1 0 0 Location 7 21 18 12 15 Location 8 15 9 7 5 Location 9 4 2 1 2 Location 10 4 5 2 2 Location 11 20 29 18 14 Location 12 3 2 0 0 Table 1 Table 2 shows the results of all the data collected at each location with the average infiltration rate at minutes 3 and 4. This is done because before minute 3 the rate of infiltration in most cases is decreasing this can be seen on graph 1, by taking the last 2 readings the accuracy is improved and a true rate of infiltration can be given. % Ground cover by vegetation No of species Vegetation height cm Soil compaction Rate of infiltration mm/min Location 1, Permanently used for the storage of round bale silage, resulting in heavy compaction. 0 0 0 9 3.5 Location 2, Permanent pasture which has been grazed over the winter resulting in heavy trampling, 40 4 5 8 1.5 Location 3, Potato seedbed, field recently tilled, very soft ground, prior usage was arable. 0 0 0 1 23 Location 4, Spring barley, prior usage was arable. 35 1 5 4 12 Location 5, Winter barley, prior land use was arable. 85 2 40 7 2.5 Location 6, Dirt track frequently used by heavy machinery resulting in a heavily compacted soil with a loose covering of sand. 0 0 0 10 0 Location 7, Land recently ploughed, prior use was arable. ...read more.


There had been very little rain in the past weeks, which could have lead to the formation f a hardened and impermeable crust. Table 3 shows the ranked data and from that it can be observed that there are no apparent trends between the number of species present or vegetation height and the rate of infiltration. The locations with the highest rates of infiltration were the potato ground followed by the woodland then the ploughed area. The potato ground has the highest rate because it is heavy cultivated to create a very loose soil structure for potatoes to grow in the high rate of infiltration would help to explain why it is necessary to frequently irrigate this land to maintain potato growth. The woodland has a high infiltration rate because there is a significant layer of loose litter and there is little compaction because no vehicles use this area. The areas of lowest infiltration were the marshland because of the increase in clay and the track because of the extreme level of compaction by tractors. This explains why erosion is significant in such areas because there is little or no infiltration resulting in a great deal of runoff. Evaluation The spearman statistical analysis shows that the results that were achieved had a reasonable significance level and it is unlikely that they were generated by chance. The determination of the rate of infiltration was accurate but the level of compaction was highly subjective and produced only an estimate. There are several other factors, which could be investigated in order to extend this investigation. These could concentrate on the soil structure and profile. This would require the drilling of core samples. the amount of water and organic matter could be investigated with the help of a laboratory. The investigation could also be extended to other farms to show the different affect on different soil and bedrock types. The effect of recent rainfall could also be investigated. ...read more.

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