If you were wondering why the Dairy Bush was blue… It was us.

— by Thanuja Thavarasa, on behalf of myself, Aidan Doak and Jamie Bain

Water flow through soil is quite complex. It can move either vertically or horizontally dependent on a variety of factors like soil texture and different types of rainfall events. It can be valuable to know these water flow patterns since they can be used, for instance, to track and regulate the movement of harmful nutrients (like phosphate) to rivers and lakes.

Here is a quick video that shows our work in the field from our own perspective.

At the University of Guelph, the Dairy Bush is divided into two adjacent sectors: a forested area and a grassland area. After scouting the location, we thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast water flow patterns between these two land covers. Thus, on June 3rd, 2019, Genevieve, Aidan, Jamie and I set out to prepare two 1 m by 1 m plots. The idea behind this project was to evenly spread 30 L of water across the plot. The water was dyed with an environmentally friendly blue dye prior to the experiment. After a couple of days, the goal was to excavate these plots and visualize soil water flow patterns via the blue soil stains left behind by the blue water. We ran into a water application problem on the grassland plot due to tall shoots and strong winds. Fortunately, we were still able to successfully saturate the plot with the 30 L of water.