Dr. Amjad Assi, Research Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, visited FAFS on July 19. Assi delivered a lecture titled “Pedostructure Characterization Lab and its Application in the Water-Food Security Studies” during which he highlighted the critical role played by soil in building and enhancing sustainable cropland production systems. Dr. Assi described the unique organization and functions of different soil types and explained how these are highly impacted by agronomic practices. He provided a virtual tour of the Pedostructure Characterization Laboratory at Texas A&M University, during which he also described the state-of-the-art apparatus TyposoilTM used to characterize the soil-water medium by measuring, continuously and simultaneously, the soil water retention and shrinkage curves. Research activities in the Lab focus on quantification the soil-water holding properties of green water.
Dr. Assi discussed the methodologies and protocols for modeling soil dynamics and assessing the long-term impact of non-conventional water reuse on soil health and productivity. Eelaborating about the pedostructure concept and its function in relation to soil-water characterization, Dr. Assi spoke about soil aggregates structure, soil thermodynamic interaction with water, soil hydro-structural characterization, pedostructure water content, soil-water holding properties; and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity. He highlighted the complementarity of the Pedostructure Characterization Lab’s hydrostructural characterization with the scaling, mapping and modeling at field application scaling.
In addition, Assi discussed applications and current case studies of the pedostructure concept that look at the long-term impact of treated wastewater and brackish groundwater on soil chemical, mineralogical and physical properties. These studies are being used to identify the similarities between two soils and examine the effects of nano-materials on soil-water potential energy and plant-available water. Dr. Assi emphasized the importance of understanding soil dynamics to implement SDGs and achieve water-food-climate-energy nexus goals. He stressed that it is necessary to include quantitative approaches in the study of long-term impact of agro-environmental practices on soil functioning and underscored the importance of the pedostructure concept, which builds on existing knowledge to better understand and model soil dynamics, which can contribute to a more accurate valuing and accounting for non-conventional water resources, vital to the sustainability of food production systems.