Soil and water science: Soil-plant-water relationships, water
management, multiple stress.
My research program is based on developing a greater understanding of how plants integrate multiple stress associated with drought and salinity. I currently have three large field projects in which I am addressing this research problem. In one study, I am investigating the potential use of a shallow perched saline aquifer as an alternative irrigation source. Two different grasses are being grown under both fresh and saline conditions in which they are also being subjected to a line source gradient to impose a matric effect. We will be looking at how the plants adjust, in terms of both internal plant water status and tissue ion content. The second study is investigating the interaction of leaching fractions and irrigation application uniformity distributions on the spatial distribution of water, salts and plant response when irrigating with wastewater. We will be using geo-statistical techniques to describe the spatial distribution and to generate contour maps to clearly show how the interaction of water and salt distribution dictates the plant response. In the third study I am investigating with Dr. Stan Smith the water use of riparian vegetation along the Virgin River. We will quantify the transpiration rate of individual plants along a gradient perpendicular to the river (potential water and salt gradient). We will use multiple techniques to quantify the transpiration, with the intent of scaling up to full canopy stand transpiration estimates.
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