PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to numerically investigate the combined effects of canopy (leaf area index [LAI]) and root properties (root distribution function [Rdf] and root area index [RAI]) on a suction induced in soil-root composite under three different scenarios.Design/methodology/approachRichards equation coupled with sink term was solved using a commercial finite element package “HYDRUS” to investigate suction induced in soil-root composite.FindingsScenario 1 unveiled that soil-root composite induces 1 to 20 per cent higher suction than bare soil under the absence of transpiration. From Scenario 2, value of suction at depth of maximum RAI in case of linearly decreasing Rdf was found to be higher than that of other Rdfs. However, depth of suction influence zone (SIZ) for uniform Rdf and non-linear Rdf was found to be 10 and 11 per cent higher than that of linearly decreasing Rdf. Depth of evaporation dominant zone (EDZ) for uniformly decreasing Rdf and non-linear Rdf was found to be 1.08 to 3 times higher than that of linearly decreasing Rdf. From Scenario 3, influence of LAI on depth of SIZ is minimal. Depth of EDZ was found to decrease with the increase in LAI. Based on simple calculation on infinite slope stability, influence of variation in root and shoot properties was found to be significant on its factor of safety.Research limitations/implicationsNumerical constitutive model has limitations that it does not consider aging of plant. This model is only applicable for a particular set of soil conditions. A long-term study is required in this field to further quantify parameters for improving calibration and modeling performance.Practical implicationsFollowing are the practical implication: consideration of vegetation properties into engineered design of green infrastructure (slopes in this case) and selection of vegetation with appropriate characteristics in design for enhancement of stability of green infrastructure.Originality/valueContents of this paper are original, and they have not been submitted to any other journal.
Engineering Computations – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 8, 2018
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