2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:25 AM

Using St. Cloud Clinoptilolite Zeolite as a Wicking Material to Sustain Riparian Vegetation

LOPEZ, Eric1, BAWAZIR, A. Salim1, TANZY, Brent2 and ADKINS, Eugene3, (1)Civil Engineering, New Mexico State University, MSC-3CE, Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003, (2)Elephant Butte Dam, United States Bureau of Reclamation, P.O Box 312 (HC-32), Truth or Consequences, NM 87901, (3)Jornada RCandD Council, USDA-NRCS, 2101 S Broadway, Truth or Consequences, NM 87901, lopeeric@nmsu.edu

Invasive plant species, such as saltcedar (Tamarix spp.), have replaced indigenous vegetation in many areas of the Southwest. Most invasive species use more water than the indigenous species and are considered undesirable. However, when various agencies remove the undesired plants and try to replace them with indigenous species, the latter fail to germinate and grow due to the unavailability of water at the right time. This study describes a method to ameliorate the problem due to lack of water by adding zeolite to the soil to act as a wicking material to draw the water from a shallow groundwater table to the plants' root zone, thus reducing dependence on surface water and precipitation.

A pilot study was established in the laboratory to measure capillary rise of water in St. Cloud clinoptilolite zeolite (SCCZ). Results from the study indicated that SCCZ was capable of raising water to height of at least 3 m. Additional research was then conducted under field conditions at San Marcial, New Mexico to determine the feasibility of this method. Eight vine mesquite grass were planted in zeolite cores and another eight in soil. Of the random grasses (giant and alkali secaton), 8 were planted in zeolite cores and another eight in soil. Zeolite cores were 15 cm in diameter and extended to the groundwater. Groundwater table averaged about 2.5 m. The results were promising. Seven out of 8 vine mesquite grass and 7 out of 8 random grasses survived in zeolite during the growing season of 2007. The grasses planted in soil at the site did not survive.