How geosynthetics contribute to feeding the world
Geosynthetics contribute to agriculture by capturing, storing, and transporting water for irrigation. They also help feed the world in other ways, as discussed in the following subsections. This section explains how geosynthetics protect against soil erosion, how they protect crops and increase yield, and how they help in fish farming and agricultural waste management. It concludes with a discussion of trends towards more sustainable agriculture, including considerations for urban areas and food waste prevention, to show how geosynthetics can contribute to more responsible food production.
Soil quality protection
Surface erosion occurs when soils are exposed to wind and water and are in a transportable state. Erosion can be defined as the removal of any part of the earth’s surface by natural causes. Agriculture and aquaculture are affected by erosion in two ways: the loss of materials (erosion of topsoil, river banks or canals) and the deposition of unwanted materials that pollute ponds and streams. water or degrade agricultural land by accelerating soil erosion (Heibaum 2010). In the context of agriculture, the loss of topsoil hampers the soil’s ability to support plant life and the many attendant benefits of mature vegetation, which can lead to increased use of fertilizers, herbicides and other potential pollutants. Runoff and sediment from these sites can carry unwanted nitrogen and phosphorus into the water system and cause unwanted plant growth that can alter habitat (Allen and Sprague 2011). Rain-eroded soil can silt up a river and severely affect waterways, endangering river habitat, restricting navigation and requiring costly dredging. Increased sedimentation can increase flood levels because sediment raises the river level as it settles (Heibaum 2014). Erosion countermeasures should be implemented as early as possible in the erosion chain (Heibaum 2010, 2014; Sprague and Sprague 2016).
Vegetation cover is one of the most effective methods of controlling soil erosion caused by wind or water (Han and Guo 2017), and natural geotextiles can be used where vegetation is considered a solution. term for slope protection and erosion control (Heibaum 2010; Venkatapa Rao 2016). Using an organic, degradable erosion control blanket can slowly release nutrients for immediate and sustained vegetation growth, even in nutrient-poor soils (Allen and Sprague 2011). Moreover, such an approach can also help retain pesticides and prevent their spread (Boutron et al. 2009).
Geosynthetics, including non-biodegradable varieties, can also be used to control erosion in non-agricultural fields. Section 7 covers the example of coastal erosion prevention, and the reader is referred to Heibaum (2010) for more details on other applications not discussed here.
Another use of geosynthetics is the drainage of agricultural land. It is one of the most critical water management techniques for maintaining productive cropland, which is extremely dependent on controlling waterlogging and soil salinity in the root zone of most crops. cultures. In humid regions, drainage controls soil water for better aeration, higher temperatures and easier workability. In contrast, in arid and semi-arid regions, the main function of drainage is to prevent waterlogging and soil salinization induced by irrigation (Ritzema 2016). Modern underground drains often consist of corrugated, flexible and perforated PE pipes, which are wrapped in a coating, e.g., g) a geotextile, to improve the permeability around the pipes and prevent the ingress of soil particles (Hsieh 2016).
Animal quality of life
Geotextiles also find a number of livestock applications. For example, they can be used around arable land as a windbreak, protective fence or to protect against frost. They can also be designed to protect crops, plants and animals from the wind by reducing wind speed (Hsieh 2016), or reinforcing areas exposed to high levels of animal traffic. For example, fall and spring rains can make livestock areas dangerously muddy for herds (Hsieh 2016), and the use of geotextiles in areas of high livestock traffic significantly reduces unhealthy and dangerous walking conditions for cattle. In addition, the cost of installing geotextiles is about a third of the cost of installing concrete surfaces.
Since the 1980s, aquaculture – the aquatic version of industrial agriculture – has become the world’s fastest growing source of fish. Some observers see aquaculture as an opportunity to reduce pressure on wild fish stocks while addressing the growing imbalance between fish production and the food needs of a growing world population (Heibaum 2010). Aquaculture is geared towards the rational use of land and water resources to ensure harmony between fish farming and the environment. For example, closed ponds have proven to be a technically feasible option for salmon farming (Heibaum 2010). These systems eliminate spillage of solid waste into the marine environment, under-tank contamination, leakage from the hatchery, and marine mammal deaths due to interaction with farmed fish and fish fillets. In addition, the water quality is improved because the smooth surface of the sealing membrane makes cleaning the pond easier (Hsieh 2008, 2016). Delete parent figure in aquaculture, geotextiles can be used to protect geomembranes from punctures, but also to cover soil and limit its erosion when geomembranes are not used (Saengrugruang and Boyd 2014; Hsieh 2016).
Agricultural waste disposal
When properly managed and used responsibly, animal manure can be a good fertilizer (Hsieh 2016). However, manure can also become a contaminant when it mixes with surface water or groundwater, and manure ponds contribute to the pollution of groundwater and surface water. With growing concerns about pollution and the accompanying tightening of government legislation, the use of geosynthetics has become more common. In particular, exposed geomembranes, geomembranes with earth cover and GCL with earth cover are currently used to seal liquid manure lagoons. In addition, geotextiles and geonets are used for both shielding and gas transmission (Barrington et al. 1998; IGS n.d.b.). Some regulations require additional closures (e.g., top cover) to (1) reduce the spread of odors or germs, (2) reduce greenhouse gas emissions by collecting methane produced by anaerobic digestion of manure, and (3) to avoid dilution to preserve the agronomic value of manure (DeGarie et al. 2000; Ng et al. 2009; Touze-Foltz 2014).
Sludge drainage pipes are becoming increasingly popular for agricultural or livestock applications. A geotextile tube consists of a highly resistant geosynthetic sleeve that is inflated by hydraulic pumping. The structure will be erected on site and backfilled in its final position (Palma et al. 2016). Sludge drainage pipes can also be used to dispose of aquaculture waste (Hsieh 2016) or animal waste (Lawson 2006, 2008).
From agriculture waste to energy
In addition to providing a local energy source, methane recovery eliminates a source of atmospheric methane. Anaerobic digesters are designed to rapidly break down animal waste in a controlled environment, allowing for the recovery and use of methane-rich biogas, which is then used to fuel combined heat and power plants that produce electricity. electricity, heating for agricultural processes and hot water. on the farm (Land and Water 2007). Anaerobic digesters use both geosynthetic bottom liner systems and flexible cover systems. The number of fermenters in operation is rapidly increasing around the world as government funding for agricultural facilities becomes increasingly available (IGS n.d.b).
On the way to more sustainable food production
Geotextiles and geomembranes serve as ground cover to promote plant germination and growth. By regulating the quality and quantity of plants reaching light, cross-linked PE shade geotextiles allow growers to control growing conditions, manipulate growth patterns, and protect plants from excessive sun. At the same time, they protect against wind, hail and other extreme weather conditions. Geosynthetics thus contribute both quantitatively and qualitatively to the improvement of food production (Hsieh 2016).
Figure remove parent to improve fruit quality and control pests, fruits can be covered with plastic or geotextile bags. For example, covering grapes with non-woven bags is very effective in reducing crop damage from birds and insects (Hsieh 2016). This is all the more important as food appearance is a contributing factor to excessive food waste.
The use of geosynthetics thus contributes to the control of plant growth, which relieves the farmer, extends harvest times and avoids oversupplies linked to a limited harvest time and the associated drop in prices and waste (Heibaum 2010). Given the magnitude of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, this application of geosynthetics is critical, as strategies to reduce food loss and waste would make a powerful contribution to mitigating global climate change (Porter et al. Ray 2015).