Journal article

An experimental comparison of silica gel and quartz sand grains as sediment media for growing vegetation at the laboratory scale

In this technical note we compare silica gel grains and quartz sand as sediment media for vegetation root growth in laboratory experiments for ecohydrology and ecohydraulics. Silica gel grains become quite transparent when saturated with water. This would be useful in order to non-invasively observe the rate of growth of plant roots and plan parallel laboratory experiments made in more typical sand sediments. In this work, we compare the results of preliminary testsconducted using quartz sand with the same grain size distribution of silica gel grains. We show that the complex microstructure of silica gel grains seems to influence the evaporation and, in turn, plant growth dynamics. The potential and limitations of the use of silica grains are accordingly discussed in light of more detailed experiments.


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