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Geomechanics and Engineering
  Volume 17, Number 5, April10 2019 , pages 475-483

Soil water retention and vegetation survivability improvement using microbial biopolymers in drylands
An Thi Phuong Tran, Ilhan Chang and Gye-Chun Cho

    Vegetation cover plays a vital role in stabilizing the soil structure, thereby contributing to surface erosion control. Surface vegetation acts as a shelterbelt that controls the flow velocity and reduces the kinetic energy of the water near the soil surface, whereas vegetation roots reinforce the soil via the formation of root-particle interactions that reduce particle detachment. In this study, two vegetation-testing trials were conducted. The first trial was held on cool-season turfgrasses seeded in a biopolymer-treated site soil in an open greenhouse. At the end of the test, the most suitable grass type was suggested for the second vegetation test, which was conducted in an environmental control chamber. In the second test, biopolymers, namely, starch and xanthan gum hydrogels (pure starch, pure xanthan gum, and xanthan gum-starch mixtures), were tested as soil conditioners for improving the water-holding capacity and vegetation growth in sandy soils. The results support the possibility that biopolymer treatments may enhance the survival rate of vegetation under severe drought environments, which could be applicable for soil stabilization in arid and semiarid regions.
Key Words
    vegetation; xanthan gum starch; water retention; drought tolerant
An Thi Phuong Tran and Gye-Chun Cho: Department of Civil Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology, 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34141. Republic of Korea

Ilhan Chang: School of Engineering and Information Technology, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

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