Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Berrin Tansel

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Shonali Laha

Third Advisor's Name

Walter Tang

Fourth Advisor's Name

Michael Sukop


Hydraulic conductivity, Soil amendments, Infiltration, Agrochemical, Organic matter

Date of Defense



Florida is the second leading horticulture state in the United States with a total annual industry sale of over $12 Billion. Due to its competitive nature, agricultural plant production represents an extremely intensive practice with large amounts of water and fertilizer usage. Agrochemical and water management are vital for efficient functioning of any agricultural enterprise, and the subsequent nutrient loading from such agricultural practices has been a concern for environmentalists. A thorough understanding of the agrochemical and the soil amendments used in these agricultural systems is of special interest as contamination of soils can cause surface and groundwater pollution leading to ecosystem toxicity. The presence of fragile ecosystems such as the Everglades, Biscayne Bay and Big Cypress near enterprises that use such agricultural systems makes the whole issue even more imminent.

Although significant research has been conducted with soils and soil mix, there is no acceptable method for determining the hydraulic properties of mixtures that have been subjected to organic and inorganic soil amendments. Hydro-physical characterization of such mixtures can facilitate the understanding of water retention and permeation characteristics of the commonly used mix which can further allow modeling of soil water interactions.

The objective of this study was to characterize some of the locally and commercially available plant growth mixtures for their hydro-physical properties and develop mathematical models to correlate these acquired basic properties to the hydraulic conductivity of the mixture. The objective was also to model the response patterns of soil amendments present in those mixtures to different water and fertilizer use scenarios using the characterized hydro-physical properties with the help of Everglades-Agro-Hydrology Model.

The presence of organic amendments helps the mixtures retain more water while the inorganic amendments tend to adsorb more nutrients due to their high surface area. The results of these types of characterization can provide a scientific basis for understanding the non-point source water pollution from horticulture production systems and assist in the development of the best management practices for the operation of environmentally sustainable agricultural enterprise





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