SOFTWARE FOR LAND EVALUATION (SOIL, WATER AND CLIMATE)

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Abstract
Given the global environmental crisis and its association with soil degradation, climate change and water scarcity, there is a need for better decision making processes regarding agricultural land management. This in turn creates the need for systems that are able to manage, process and analyze large amounts of information. The aim of this study was to describe the creation and use of three different softwares. They were designed and developed using Eclipse as programming interface, Derby as database management system and Java as programming language. The Soils and Environment (S&E) software uses a few soil properties to perform environmental assessments of soil profiles. These assessments are performed qualitatively, considering Human life, Flora and fauna, Natural Archive and Cultural Archive, and quantitatively, considering Water Cycle (associated with field capacity and hydraulic capacity), Nutrient Cycle (cation exchange capacity), Heavy Metals (ph, cec, texture and structure), Means of Transformation (organic pollutants), Food and Biomass (field capacity, aeration capacity and effective cation exchange capacity), Filtration and Infiltration, and Organic carbon Stock. The software for evaluation of water quality for agriculture (Agriwater) was designed to evaluate the quality of irrigation water (salinity, sodicity, chlorine toxicity) and to identify water families. The transformation of units is done automatically. The Climate Change with Monthly Data (Clic-MD) software was designed to analyze climate change trends at the local level using monthly data; with Click-MD, we can make up to 432 graphs of indicators of climate change per weather station. S&E, Agriwater and Clic-MD facilitate the management of large databases, which in turn improves staff productivity and related data management, and reduces the time of analysis by more than 90%. Key words: environmental soil functions; soil profile; water quality; climate change; agroclimatic analysis
SOFTWARE FOR LAND EVALUATION (SOIL, WATER AND
CLIMATE)
Francisco Bautista1, Carmen Delgado2, Ángeles Gallegos3, Aristeo Pacheco3
1 Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía Ambiental, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de
México. Antigua Carretera a Patzcuaro, Morelia, Michoacán, México
2 Universidad Michaocana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo
3 Scientific Knowledge In Use (Skiu). Distrito Federal México
E-mail: leptosol@ciga.unam.mx
ABSTRACT
Given the global environmental crisis and its association with soil degradation, climate
change and water scarcity, there is a need for better decision making processes regarding
agricultural land management. This in turn creates the need for systems that are able to
manage, process and analyze large amounts of information. The aim of this study was to
describe the creation and use of three different softwares. They were designed and developed
using Eclipse as programming interface, Derby as database management system and Java as
programming language. The Soils and Environment (S&E) software uses a few soil properties
to perform environmental assessments of soil profiles. These assessments are performed
qualitatively, considering Human life, Flora and fauna, Natural Archive and Cultural Archive,
and quantitatively, considering Water Cycle (associated with field capacity and hydraulic
capacity), Nutrient Cycle (cation exchange capacity), Heavy Metals (ph, cec, texture and
structure), Means of Transformation (organic pollutants), Food and Biomass (field capacity,
aeration capacity and effective cation exchange capacity), Filtration and Infiltration, and
Organic carbon Stock. The software for evaluation of water quality for agriculture
(Agriwater) was designed to evaluate the quality of irrigation water (salinity, sodicity,
chlorine toxicity) and to identify water families. The transformation of units is done
automatically. The Climate Change with Monthly Data (Clic-MD) software was designed to
analyze climate change trends at the local level using monthly data; with Click-MD, we can
make up to 432 graphs of indicators of climate change per weather station. S&E, Agriwater
and Clic-MD facilitate the management of large databases, which in turn improves staff
productivity and related data management, and reduces the time of analysis by more than
90%.
Key words: environmental soil functions; soil profile; water quality; climate change; agro-
climatic analysis
INTRODUCTION
The current global environmental crisis (climate change, soil degradation, lack of water) is
recognized as a major global problem, and soils play an important role in it. Land use changes
and soil degradation are a global concern (Lambin et al., 2001) due to the loss of soil
productivity and the loss of the environmental functions of the soil (Bouma, 2009; Liang et
al., 2014). In some cases, changes in land use are made without considering or measuring
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Page 22
consequent changes in the chemical, physical and biological properties of soils, or in their
environmental functions (Lehmann & Stahr, 2010; Gallegos et al., 2014).
It is now clear that the activities performed on a soil in a particular location can have positive
or negative effects on the local environment or on the environment of neighboring locations.
For these reasons, it is very important to understand the changes that can be produced in the
environmental functions of soils.
The environmental functions of soils are: human life; flora and fauna; natural archive; cultural
archive; water cycle; nutrient cycle; heavy metals; means of transformation; food and
biomass; filtration and infiltration; and soil organic carbon stock. The names of these
environmental functions of soils aim to serve as a means of communication with a broader
public beyond soil scientists.
There is no commercial software for evaluating the environmental functions of soils that
consider their full profile; the existing software mainly uses the properties of surface horizons
or of topsoils and does not make a full assessment of the soil profile (de la Rosal et al., 2004;
Lehmann et al., 2008; Gallegos et al., 2014).
Similarly, there is no commercial software for: a) analyzing climatic elements with respect to
agroclimatic objectives; b) identifying trends of climate change; and c) increasing soil
functionality (Delgado et al., 2011; Bautista et al., 2013).
The existing commercial software for analyzing the quality of irrigation water is expensive.
For the reasons mentioned above, we decided to develop three softwares: 1) S&E to evaluate
the environmental functions of soils; 2) Clic-MD to identify trends in climate change and to
perform agroclimatic analysis; and 3) Agriwater to evaluate the quality of irrigation water.
The aim of this paper is to describe the function of the three softwares as tools for improving
decision making in land use.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The softwares are: a) Soils and environment (S&E); b) Evaluation of water quality for
agriculture (Agriwater); and c) Climate Change with Monthly Data (Clic-MD). The three
softwares were designed and developed using Eclipse as programming interface (Eclipse
Foundation, 2015), Derby as database management system (Oracle, 2014) and Java as
programming language (Oracle, 2014).
a) Soil and Environment
S&E was developed based on the TUSEC evaluation models (Lehmann et al., 2008) and on
the Assofu software (Gallegos et al., 2014; Bautista et al., 2015).
The soil properties measured on field that are necessary for analysis with S&E are: thickness
of the horizon; bulk density; aggregate type, size and stability) (Figure 1). Other optional soil
properties estimated and/or measured on field are pH and texture class.
The soil properties obtained from laboratory data that are indispensable for working with S&E
are C, CEC, Ca, Mg, Na, K, pH and particle size distribution. Other optional soil properties
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are: field capacity, permanent wilting point and infiltration rate. However, these soil
properties can be estimated from the description of the soil profile.
The environmental functions of soils that are qualitatively evaluated by this software
are:
Human life (presence/absence). A qualitative assessment based on evidence of the
presence of pollution sources (diffuse or fixed)
Native flora and fauna (disturbance). A qualitative assessment based on soil
disturbance.
Natural Archive (Clear evidence that can help to protect the soil or to identify risks).
All soils constitute a natural archive; however, the idea is to identify specific soil
features that can help protect it or that warn about potential risks. Some examples of
the natural archive are paleosoils and buried soils, with strong gleyic properties,
evidence of landslides, among others.
Cultural Archive.The objective of this assessment is to help in the conservation of
soils containing historical information that cannot be obtained by other means.
The environmental functions of soils that are quantitatively evaluated by the S&E
software are:
Water Cycle (Field capacity, moisture retention). Considering the Field capacity of the
soil profile (L m-2).
Nutrient Cycle. Considering the cation exchange capacity of the whole profile.
Heavy Metals. It refers to the ability of soils to adsorb heavy metals; this evaluation
considers aggregates, pH, clay and humus.
Means of Transformation. It refers to the ability of microorganisms to transform
organic pollutants. The evaluation considers the amount of humus, the presence of
aquifers, the shape of the aggregates and the pH.
Food and Biomass. This assessment considers the field capacity, the aeration capacity
and effective cation exchange capacity of the soil profile.
Filtration and Infiltration. The purpose of this evaluation is associated with the
response of soils to relevant critical precipitation.
Organic carbon stock. The objective of this evaluation is to estimate the total organic
carbon content of the soil profile; this would allow us to compare each soil with
surrounding soils and thereby to identify the various levels of organic carbon in the
soils of an specific area.
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Figure 1. Design and operation of the S&E software
b) Assessment of water quality for agriculture
The data of physicochemical parameters (conductivity, major anions and cations) stored in
Agriwater constitute the main database of the software. These indices are estimated to
characterize the water according to the water families, the risk of salinity and sodicity to the
soil, and the risk of toxic chlorides, sodium and sulfates (Figure 2). These indices are required
by the Salinity laboratory to classify irrigation water (Richards, 1954; Ayers y Wescott, 1985)
and were proposed by the Postgraduate College for the conditions present in Mexico (Palacios
y Aceves, 1970).
The Sodium Adsorption Ratio (SAR) measures the relative concentration of Na+ with respect
to the concentration of Ca2+ + and Mg2+, as the latter two ions counteract the effects of
sodium.
The SAR index is calculated by the following equation:
The components are expressed in meq L-1
The Salinity Potential index (SP) is used to estimate the risk for a high concentration of salts
in solution (Cl- y SO42-), which can increase the osmotic potential of the solution when the
usable soil moisture is less than 50%. The water can be classified according to the SP into
Na+
Mg2+ + Ca2+
2
SAR =
Na+
Mg2+ + Ca2+
2
SAR =
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three types: good ((˂3 meq L-1), conditional (3 to 15 meq L-1) and not recommended (>15
meq L-1) (Palacios and Aceves, 1970). The equation to calculate this index is as follows:
PS = Cl- + ½ SO42-
values and are expressed in meq L-1
Figure 2. Agriwater System
The Effective Salinity index (ES) provides a more precise estimate of the risk of increased
osmotic pressure of the soil solution when high concentrations of carbonates and bicarbonates
are present. Under this situation, calcium carbonates and magnesium, as well as calcium
sulfate, precipitate, thereby ceasing to raise the osmotic pressure of the solution. This process
is most noticeable when the water has a high content of carbonates and bicarbonates. Water
can be classified according to the SE into the same categories of the SP (Palacios and Aceves,
1970; Delgado et al., 2010). This index is calculated using the following conditions and
equations:
If Ca2+ > (CO32- + HCO3- + SO42-),
ES = ( cations or anions) - (CO32- + HCO3- + SO42-), (3)
If Ca2+ < (CO32- + HCO3- + SO42-), but Ca2+ > (CO32- + HCO3-),
ES = ( cations or anions) – (Ca2+) (4)
If Ca2+ < (CO32- + HCO3-) but (Ca2+ + Mg2+) > (CO32- + HCO3-),
ES = ( cations or anions) - (CO32- + HCO3-) (5)
If (Ca2+ + Mg2+) < (CO32- + HCO3-),
ES = ( cations or anions) - (Ca2+ + Mg2+) (6)
The components are expressed in meq L-1
Note: the highest value should be used for the sum of cations and anions.
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a) Analysis of Climate Change with Monthly Data
A database of climatic elements (temperature and precipitation) can be enriched with
information collected from different sources, including the global climate database ERICK III
(Figure 3). The climatic elements stored in Clic-MD are those commonly measured in any
climatological station in the world; this allows to estimate ET0 using the most commonly used
empirical tests: Hargreaves and Thornthwaite.
Unlike other programs that estimate ET0 with Hargreaves and Thornthwaite tests, Clic-MD
allows for changes in the constants of these equations or methods, with the aim of using the
values according to a calibration to the reference method (ET0-PM). This allows obtaining the
best estimates of ET0 (Bautista et al., 2009).
Figure 3. System for estimating Climate Change with Monthly Data
With Clic-MD, it is possible to: a) Estimate agro-climatic indices of humidity, aridity, erosion
by rain, among others, which can help improve agricultural activities and reduce the damage
to the environment; b) Organize, store and handle millions of climatic data points
(temperature and precipitation); and c) Identify climate change trends at the local level
(direction and magnitude) using both the Mann Kendall Test and Sen´s Test (Bautista et al.,
2013)
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
a) Soil and Environment
S&E software is an ideal tool for land management due to its use of everyday language. This
allows for technical staff with knowledge of soils to interpret the results in ways that can be
understood beyond the agricultural sphere.
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The functions of this software are: to generate graphs of the capacity of soils to perform their
environmental functions; to estimate physical and chemical soil properties; to identify soils
with greater potential for food production; to assess the environmental functions of soils to
help select the best sites for housing construction, considering the damping power of
contaminants such as heavy metals and organic substances; to select soils suitable as habitat
for wild flora and fauna; to select sites for aquifer recharge; to identify soils that can store
organic carbon, contributing to reduce climate change; to identify soils of archaeological
importance; and to appreciate soils of geological importance (e.g., soils with bones of
prehistoric animals, soils with evidence of ancient sea beds, etc.).
Figure 4. Example of the evaluation of soil for production of food and biomass
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Figure 5. Example of the evaluation of environmental functions of a soil using S&E
As with all software, the quality of the result depends on the quality of the input variables.
The models used to estimate soil properties such as hydraulic conductivity, moisture retention
and aeration capacity were generated based on the knowledge of the soils of Europe
(Lehmann et al., 2008); thus, adjustments are expected when studying the soils of other parts,
as we have seen with Andosols in Mexico.
b) Agriwater
The indices of agricultural water quality estimated by this software are an easily
understandable tool for people responsible for water resources that can help them in their
decision-making by providing information on the quality and potential uses of a water body
based on a number of parameters (Delgado et al., 2010).
Agriwater allows to: a) Store in an orderly way the physicochemical georeferenced data
of water quality; b) To make quick queries about the physicochemical parameters of water,
stored and displayed on menus, windows, and icons; c) To estimate various indices of water
quality such as the sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) (Figure 6), salinity potential (SP) and
effective salinity (ES); d) To classify water according to the relationship between salinity
(EC) and sodicity (SAR) (Salinity-Sodicity diagram) (Richards, 1954; Ayers y Wescott,
1985); e) To determine the type of water family according to the percentage of major
ions (Piper graph, Figure 7) (Piper, 1944).
With Agriwater, we can: a) Handle the water quality data from hundreds of wells in a matter
of seconds; b) Convert units; estimate indices of water quality for irrigation; c) Evaluate the
salinity and sodicity of water; d) Evaluate the toxicity of the soluble ions; e) Identify the water
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family in order to understand the effect of water on the soil; f) Evaluate the changes in the
quality of irrigation water to prevent the degradation of agricultural soils.
Figure 6. Evaluation of water salinity and sodicity
Figure 7. Diagram of water families
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c) Analysis of Climate Change with Monthly Data
The software Clic-MD facilitates the handling of large amounts of data of climatic
parameters, creating graphs that display thousands of data points in seconds. The computer
system Clic-MD allows to organize, store and handle climate data used for Evapotranspiration
(ET0) analysis and for different Agroclimatic indices.
Clic-MD can be very useful to: a) Store, in an orderly way, thousands of climate data points
from georeferenced climatological stations; b) Check the consistency of the data of the
minimum, average and maximum temperatures; c) Correct wrong data; d) Make very fast
queries about the climatic parameters stored (through menus, windows, and icons for easy
use); e) Estimate evapotranspiration and agroclimatic indices and making climograms, graphs
of the length of the growing period and rainfall probability (Figure 8), and descriptive
statistics of climatic parameters; f) Estimate climate change trends and climate anomalies, and
to analyze extreme weather events, helping decision makers to take advantage of the positive
effects of climate change.
Clic-MD allows to identify the patterns of the rainy season, essential information when
choosing crop varieties, optimizing rainwater use, helping the conservation of aquifers and
trying to achieve the highest possible economic yield.
The graphs of the increases and decreases of temperature and precipitation are a way of
showing the annual anomalies of climatic parameters. Sometimes, these graphs make it
possible to determine the magnitude of climate change in recent years, as in the graph of
Figure 9, which shows increases in the maximum temperature observed in April from 1997 to
2006 at the meteorological station of Puerto Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico.
Figure 8. Example of rainfall probability in a wet month
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Figure 9. Example of a graphic showing increases and decreases of maximum temperature
with respect to the average.
Temperature anomalies are defined by the difference between the average temperature of the
year in question (or any period of years) and a reference period considered normal (Figure
10). Usually, studies of climate change consider a reference period and a change period. With
Clic-MD, researchers may define different reference and change periods (Figure 10).
A graduate student can spend seven months analyzing data from a weather station and
produce 436 graphs in Excel; the same student could produce the same results in just 25
minutes using Clic-MD (Figure 11).
Figure 10. Temperature anomalies and extreme events
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Figure 11. Comparison of the time in minutes required to analyze data from a meteorological
station between Excel and Clic-MD
CONCLUSIONS
The three softwares are tools to better manage large databases; the softwares are intuitive,
user-friendly and incorporate expert knowledge that allows for easy interpretation of the
results.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
This study was supported by Scientific Knowledge In Use (Skiu)
http://www.actswithscience.com/en/moclic222/. Francisco Bautista acknowledges the
financial support provided by DGAPA-UNAM for his sabatical stay in CEBAS-CSIC.
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    The Yucatán Peninsula has the largest reserve of water in Mexico. It is generally believed that groundwater is of good quality although its agricultural quality has been scarcely studied. The aims of this study were to identify and characterize zones with distinctive groundwater qualities for agricultural use in Yucatán. Water samples were collected at 113 supply wells. The concentrations of Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+, HCO3-, SO42-, NO3-, Cl- and the electric conductivity (EC) were determined. Sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), potential salinity (PS) and effective salinity (ES) were also calculated. A geostatistical analysis by kriging interpolation was performed. ES, PS and SAR as well as Na+, EC, Cl-, SO42-, and Ca2+ were selected to make maps, in accordance with the values of semivariogram and values of cross-validation. The map of the ES was taken as the base to make the map of zones of agricultural quality groundwater. The quality of karstic groundwater in the state of Yucatán cannot be recommended for agriculture in Zones I (EC and ES), II (EC, Chlorides, PS and ES) and III (EC, sulfates and ES); in Zones IV and V the water is of medium quality and in the Zone VI, water is considered good for agricultural use. This information will be relevant in decision-making for government's agricultural and environmental planning.