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International Journal of Scientific Research in Environmental Sciences, 2(9), pp.

323-331, 2014
Available online at http://www.ijsrpub.com/ijsres
ISSN: 2322-4983; 2014 IJSRPUB
http://dx.doi.org/10.12983/ijsres-2014-p0323-0331


323
Full Length Research Paper

Evaporative Cooling of Wet Soil Surface under Different Agricultural Land Use
Systems

Henry Oppong Tuffour
1,2
*, Mensah Bonsu
2
, Williams Kwame Atakora
3
, Awudu Abubakari
2


1
School of Agriculture and Bio-Resource Engineering, Anglican University College of Technology, Nkoranza Campus,
Nkoranza, Ghana
2
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
3
Savanna Agricultural Research Institute, P. O. Box TL 52, Tamale, Ghana
*Corresponding author: hoppongtuffour@gmail.com; (+233) 208 542 308

Received 19 June 2014; Accepted 11 August 2014

Abstract. Laboratory evaporation studies were conducted to assess the roles of the various stages of evaporation on heat
reduction from wet soil surfaces. Undisturbed soil columns from three different fields viz., cocoa (Theobroma cacao), oil palm
(Elaies guineensis) and arable were collected from the 0-10 cm depth at the Plantations section of the Department of Crop and
Soil Sciences, KNUST, Kumasi. The samples were initially saturated with water at an initial temperature of 65
o
C. The soil
columns were subjected to surface evaporation by placing them under a Sanyo (40 cm) dynamic wide desk oscillating fan.
Evaporation and temperature readings were taken at 5 minutes interval for 1 hour. Two homogeneous soil columns were used
as for reference tests (control). Evaporation analysis showed 1st and 2nd stages of evaporation with cumulative evaporation
being proportional to the square root of time at the 2nd stage. Temperature decreased rapidly with increasing evaporation
during the 1st stage of evaporation till the falling and slow rate stages, during which change in temperature was minimal and
almost constant. A 1 mm increase in evaporation showed a decrease in mean temperature by 7.53
o
C, 7.35
o
C and 7.10
o
C from
cocoa, oil palm and arable fields, respectively at 1% significant level. The results of this study indicated that under a constant
atmospheric evaporativity, 1 mm increase in evaporation would cause a significant decrease in soil temperature.

Keywords: Cumulative evaporation, Evaporativity, Heat, Temperature

1. INTRODUCTION

Direct solar radiation is the main source of heat to
soils. The amount of heat absorbed by soil depends on
the nature of the soil. Soils with the highest amount of
sand will absorb more heat than those with lots of
organic matter (Watkins, 2011). According to Biswas
and Mukherjee (2001), heat is absorbed from solar
radiation by the soil surface and it is conducted down
its depth which determines its thermal regime and
plant growth. Thus, soil temperature is associated with
many physical, chemical, and biological processes in
the soil. It governs evaporation and soil aeration
(Hillel, 1998). The flow of heat through the soil is,
therefore, of considerable importance in plant growth.
However extreme levels of temperature of soils as
well as air affect their life. Higher soil temperatures
occur when days are long, air temperatures are high,
skies are clear and there is no wind (Stapleton et al.,
2008).
The longer high temperatures persist, the greater
the injury they inflict on plants. Temperatures higher
than 50C also result in death of heat sensitive
microbes which may result in a reduction in microbial
activity, and temperatures higher than 70C directly
affect vegetation (Choromanska and Deluca, 2002).
High soil temperatures increase mineralisation of
organic matter and result in increased carbon dioxide
emissions, especially from organic soils, whereas
mineralisation of wet soils may result in an increase in
methane emissions. Dunn et al., (1985) reported that
heat and Soil moisture function together in the
inactivation of soil microbes. High soil temperature
according to Holshouser (2013) results in greater
microbial respiration which leads to greater depletion
of oxygen.
How soils conduct heat determines how water
evaporates from soil. Most incoming heat according to
Brady and Weil (2002) is initially dissipated by
evaporation. Yeu and Vakhguelt (2011) also reported
that high heat input increases the rate of evaporation
and also dry out rate. Evaporation therefore influences
the hydrological cycle by determining the exchange of
heat and moisture between the atmosphere and the
Tuffour et al.
Evaporative Cooling of Wet Soil Surface under Different Agricultural Land Use Systems
324
land surface. Hence it exerts a strong influence on the
patterns of water vapour transport in the atmosphere
that are essential in shaping our climate (Yeh et al.,
1998). According to Brady and Weil (2002), the soils
heat capacity is one of the most important factors
controlling the rates of soil warming and cooling. This
shows that an increasing proportion of energy is vital
for evaporation to occur. In view of this, Cook (2003)
reported that the greater the soil moisture content, the
higher the soil thermal conductivity. Thus a saturated
soil would have conductivity near that of water.
In arid areas, soils have proven to be a promising
source of cooling. Through the process of
evaporation, the heat within the soils is extracted and
the soils cool down. In these regions, shading the soil
alone will not lower its temperature enough to allow it
to be used as a cooling source. A combination of
shading and irrigation, which can provide evaporation
from the soils surface, is therefore, the requirement
(Baruch, 1994). According to Neil (2003), when
water evaporates, energy is drawn from its
surroundings, which produces a considerable cooling
effect. He went further to state that evaporative
cooling occurs when unsaturated air passes over a wet
surface and thus the faster the evaporation rate the
greater cooling effect. Soil with high moisture will
produce high evaporation if temperatures warm
significantly during the day. This will produce
evaporative cooling because, regardless of the high
temperature during the day, evaporation prevents the
temperature from getting as warm as it otherwise
would have. The application of water to vegetation
utilises evaporative cooling, convective cooling and
hydro cooling. However, evaporative cooling is the
most effective. In view of this, an effective irrigation
cooling system should strive for as much evaporative
cooling as possible (MoFA, 1995).
Most beneficial soil organisms are susceptible to
lethal effects of heat in soil and the tropical areas.
This calls for a great concern in the control of heat in
soils. There are several ways of reducing heat in the
soil. One of the commonly used methods is the use of
organic mulch. Notwithstanding their numerous
benefits, some of these organic materials come with
their antecedent problems such as increase in diseases
and populations of insect pests among others.
Watering properly is a good idea to stabilize soil
temperatures. Countries and Farmers in arid and semi-
arid areas use irrigation as a way of reducing heat in
the soil. Irrigation application helps keep the
temperature down at critical periods of high heat
waves thereby increasing evaporation from the soil
surface and the consequent result from evaporative
cooling. Therefore, the objective of this study was to
assess degree of evaporative cooling from wet soil
surfaces in three different agricultural fields.
2. MATERIALS AND METHODS

2.1. Soil Sampling and Laboratory Analyses

Soil samples were taken from the Plantation Research
station of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
of the Faculty of Agriculture, KNUST, Kumasi. The
area is within semi-deciduous forest zone and is
subjected to marked wet and dry season with a
bimodal rainfall pattern. The two rainfall peaks make
two growing seasons possible. There is heavy rainfall
from May to July, which is interrupted by a dry period
of about four weeks in August; this is followed by
another period of heavy rainfall from September to
October. Dry season length is between 120 130
days. Annual rainfall is about 1375 mm. Annual
temperature ranges from 25 35oC. Soils from the
area belong to the Asuansi series as described by Adu
(1992) or OrthiFerric Acrisol FAO (1990) or Typic
Haplustult USDA (1998). Soils were randomly taken
from three fields (cocoa, arable and uprooted oil
palm) from depths of 0-10 cm. Core samplers (10 cm
in length and 5 cm diameter) were used to collect the
undisturbed soil samples. The disturbed soil samples
were collected in transparent polythene bags with a
hand trowel (Klute 1986). The samples were taken to
the laboratory and used for the analyses of particle
size, organic carbon content, bulk density, and
evaporation. Undisturbed soil samples collected in
cores were used for bulk density and evaporation,
while the disturbed samples were air-dried at room
temperature, pass through a 2 mm sieve and sub-
sampled for organic carbon content, and particle size
analyses.
The particle size was determined using the
hydrometer method of mechanical analysis (Klute,
1986). Organic carbon of the soil samples was
determined using the Walkley Black Wet Oxidation
Method described by Nelson and Sommers (1982).
The dry bulk density was determined using the core
sampler method (Klute, 1986). The Core samplers
were driven into the soil with the aid of a wooden
plank and mallet. The samplers were removed to
maintain the natural soil structure. The volume of the
cylindrical cores was taken to be the volume of the
soil samples. The samplers containing the undisturbed
samples were oven dried at 105C for 24 hours to a
constant mass. The oven dried samples were weighed.
The ratio of the oven dried mass ( ) to the total
volume of the soil ( ) was calculated as the dry bulk
densities. The dry bulk density was calculated from
the formula:
International Journal of Scientific Research in Environmental Sciences, 2(9), pp. 323-331, 2014
325


Fig. 1: Map of the experimental field at Plantations Research Station, KNUST

2.2. Evaporation Study

Undisturbed samples collected in cores were used for
the evaporation experiment in the laboratory. The
bottom of the cores were covered with pieces of
cotton cloth and tied with a rubber band. The samples
were placed in plastic bowls filled with water to about
half the height of the cores to attain saturation. After
saturation the samples were removed from the water
and the initial temperature and mass were recorded.
The cylindrical cores containing the samples were
then placed under an electric Sanyo (40 cm) dynamic
wide desk oscillating fan for evaporation as a function
of time, 5 minutes interval for 1 hour. At each time
interval, the samples were weighed and temperature
recorded, after which the samples were oven dried at a
temperature of 105C for 24 hours to determine the
final water content. The volume of water evaporated
was divided by the cross-sectional area of the cylinder
to convert the volume to equivalent depth of water in
mm. The rate of evaporation was expressed in
mm/min. Undisturbed soil samples from the same
fields and depth were used as control experiment. The
study was carried out on daily basis with one sample
at a time. The results were analyzed using Stata
statistical package, version 11.20.

3. RESULTS

3.1. Data of soil analyses for the various fields

Summary of results from the physic-chemical
analyses of soil samples are presented in Table 1.

Table 1: Physico-chemical properties of soil samples from the three fields
Field Sand (%) Clay (%) Silt (%) Texture
(g/cm
3
)
O.C. (%) O.M. (%)
Oil palm 68.00 14.00 18.00 SL 0.94 1.73 2.98

Cocoa

69.00

15.40

15.60

SL

1.00

1.99

3.43

Arable

83.00

10.54

6.46

LS

1.31

1.65

2.84
O.C. = Organic carbon; O.M. = Organic matter; = Bulk density; SL = Sandy loam; LS = Loamy sand

The particle size analysis showed that the texture
of the various field were sandy loam for both uprooted
oil palm and cocoa fields and loamy sand for arable
field. The results also show that the dominant soil
Tuffour et al.
Evaporative Cooling of Wet Soil Surface under Different Agricultural Land Use Systems
326
particle in all three fields is sand. Organic matter
ranged from 2.84% - 3.43% for the different fields.
Cocoa field recorded the highest organic matter
(3.43%) followed by oil palm field (2.98%). Arable
field had the least organic matter content (2.84%).
However, bulk density was highest in the Arable field
(1.31 g/cm
3
) followed by uprooted oil palm field (0.94
g/cm
3
) with the least value recorded in the cocoa field
(1.00 g/cm
3
).
Results of cumulative evaporation and the duration
of the first stage of evaporation are presented in Table
2. The highest value of evaporation of 3.52 mm was
recorded in the soil from the cocoa field and it was
closely followed by soil from uprooted oil palm (3.23
mm). The least value was recorded in the soil from
arable field (2.99 mm). Again, in all fields, the first
stage of the process lasted between 5 and 40 minutes.
The longest duration was observed in the cocoa field,
whereas, the shortest was in the arable field. The
pattern of the process is illustrated in the plot of
cumulative evaporation against time (Fig. 2).

Table 2: Cumulative evaporation and duration of first stage evaporation from the experimental fields
Field E (mm) Duration of 1st stage (min)
Cocoa 3.52 5-40
Oil palm 3.23 5-35
Arable 2.99 5-30
E = Cumulative evaporation; *Mean diffusivity of 0.30 mm
2
/min.


Fig. 2: Cumulative evaporation against time for the various fields

3.2. Falling rate stage

Plots of cumulative evaporation against square root of
time (Figures 3a-3c) were used to describe the pattern
of the second stage of evaporation.

3.3. Evaporative cooling

In assessing evaporative cooling (temperature
reduction) in the soils from the various fields,
graphical plots of temperature change against time
and cumulative evaporation during the process were
made (Figures 4a-4c). To investigate the influence of
evaporation on heat reduction, a plot of temperature
change as a function of evaporation was made.
Linear regression analysis (Table 3) showed that
increasing evaporation by 1 mm decreased mean
temperature by 7.53
o
C, 7.10
o
C and 7.35
o
C for soils
from cocoa, arable and oil palm fields, respectively.



International Journal of Scientific Research in Environmental Sciences, 2(9), pp. 323-331, 2014
327

Fig. 3a: Plot of cumulative evaporation against square root of time (falling stage) for cocoa field


Fig. 3b: Plot of cumulative evaporation against square root of time (falling stage) for oil palm field


Fig. 3c: Plot of cumulative evaporation against square root of time (falling stage) for arable field



Tuffour et al.
Evaporative Cooling of Wet Soil Surface under Different Agricultural Land Use Systems
328

Fig. 4a: A graph of temperature change against time during evaporation (cooling curve) for cocoa field


Fig. 4b: A graph of temperature change against time during evaporation (cooling curve) for the arable field


Fig. 4c: A graph of temperature changes against time during evaporation (cooling curve) the oil palm field


International Journal of Scientific Research in Environmental Sciences, 2(9), pp. 323-331, 2014
329
Table 3: Regression results for the various fields
Dependent variable: Temperature Model coefficients

Field

Cocoa


Arable


Oil palm

Constant 14.475* (2.372) 11.959* (0.614) 13.122* (1.487)

Variable

E

-7.534* (1.456)


-7.101* (0.456)


-7.347* (0.992)




R
2


0.709


0.957


0.832

E = Cumulative evaporation; *Significant at 1% probability; Standard errors are reported in parentheses; n = 12

4. DISCUSSIONS

Texture had a profound effect on evaporation from the
initially saturated soil. The cumulative evaporation
varied from a low value of 2.99 mm for loamy sand
from arable field to a high value of 3.52 mm for sandy
loam from cocoa field (Table 2). The pattern could be
well visualized from the plot of cumulative
evaporation against time was made (Fig. 2). Sandy
loam had lower percentage sand, but higher
percentage clay and organic matter content than
loamy sand (Table 1). Sandy loamy recording the
highest organic carbon content was likely to have high
moisture content and heat capacity since high OM
content typically increases the moisture content and
retention, and heat capacity of soils. Loamy sand from
arable field, on the other hand, recorded the least
amount of OM. This could be as a result of low shoot
and root growth of crops and natural vegetation and
the rapid turnover rates of organic matter as a result of
high soil temperature. Again, since a low bulk density
is associated with increased porosity and water
content of the soil, the high evaporation recorded in
cocoa field, is thus, justified. Graham (2004) and
Menking et al. (2005), observed high cumulative
evaporation from a few centimeters below the soil and
concluded that evaporation is concentrated within an
evaporation front located at the soil surface.
Evaporation analysis and a general trend observed
in cumulative evaporation against time (Fig. 2)
showed that in all fields, first stage evaporation lasted
between 5 and 40 minutes (Table 2). A steep increase
in evaporation was observed from 5-40 minutes with
evaporation increasing from 0.33 mm to 1.90 mm.
Similar results were found by Ritchie (1972) in his
studies on first stage evaporation from cumulative
evaporation. The first stage evaporation dominated the
average evaporation. Experimental conditions
essentially resulted in very short-lived stage-2 type
conditions (< 20 minutes). Figures 3 show a linear
relationship between cumulative evaporation and
square root of time which describes the pattern of the
falling rate stage. Cumulative evaporation was thus
found to be proportional to the square root of time, as
reported by Gardener and Hillel (1962) and Inkoom
(2013). However, similar to the report by Jalota and
Prihar (1986), a strong linear relationship
characterized with the falling rate stage was not
observed. This could be attributed to the short
duration of the second stage of the process.
Nonetheless, the process followed the same pattern
described in Graham (2004). A relatively low and
constant evaporation (1.99 mm) was observed from
the 55th to the 60th minute (when measurements were
discontinued), possibly depicting stage-3 of
evaporation which is rarely reached (Ritchie, 1972).
Analysis of evaporation and temperature change
with time (Figs. 4a-4c) showed a rapid decline in
temperature from the 5th to the 40th minute. This
change in temperature could be described as change in
heat. The initial rapid decrease in heat was associated
with potential evaporation at the early stage during
which water was readily available to be converted
from liquid to vapour. Linear regressions showed that
the temperature decrease was significant on a 0.01
significant level for all soils during evaporation (Table
3). The minimum and almost constant temperature
from the 40th to the 60th minute coincided with the
commencement of the decline in evaporation during
the falling and slow rate stages when a steady rate was
reached. According to Yeu and Vakhguelt (2011),
during the steady state, ; where, T is the
change in temperature, and t is the change in time.
An increase in temperature during the fall of
evaporation as predicted by Gran (2009) was,
however, not observed. This could be attributed to the
controlled condition under which the study was
conducted. Thus, on bright sunny days, when days are
long, air temperatures are high, skies are clear and
there is no wind, high soil temperature will be
expected (Stapleton et al., 2008).

5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

From the study, it was observed that, even, a 1 mm
increase in evaporation resulted in a significant
decrease in soil temperature under a constant
atmospheric evaporativity. First stage of evaporation
caused a rapid decrease in temperature till the falling
and slow rate stages when change in temperature was
Tuffour et al.
Evaporative Cooling of Wet Soil Surface under Different Agricultural Land Use Systems
330
minimal and almost constant. From these results, we
recommend that, in arid and semi-arid areas, where
soil temperatures rise greatly, irrigation can be used to
lower temperature at extremely important periods or
conditions of high temperature and heat, hence
ensuring and increasing evaporative cooling in heated
soils.

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International Journal of Scientific Research in Environmental Sciences, 2(9), pp. 323-331, 2014
331



Henry Oppong Tuffour is a Ph.D. candidate in Soil Physics / Soil Hydrology at the Kwame
Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana and Soil Science lecturer at
the Anglican University College of Technology, Nkoranza Campus, Ghana. He received his
first degree in 2008 with the award of a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Master of
Science in Soil Science in 2012 with major in Soil Physics and Geostatistics from the Kwame
Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. His current research focuses on
hydrological modelling of infiltration involving the soil particle phase and groundwater quality.





Rev. Fr. Professor Mensah Bonsu is a Visiting Professor (Post-retirement from the University
of Cape Coast, Ghana) in Soil Science at the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences of the
Kwame University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. He obtained his first degree in
Agricultural Mechanization in 1972 and a Masters degree in Soil Science with Soil Physics
major in 1978 from the University of Ghana. He later pursued another Masters degree in Soil
Science (Soil Physics / Soil Hydrology Major) in 1984 and Ph.D. in Soil Science with major in
Soil Physics / Soil Hydrology Major in 1987 at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver,
Canada. He has published numerous refereed articles covering soil physics, soil hydrology, soil
conservation and management, climate change and agronomy in professional journals.




Williams Kwame Atakora graduated from the University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana in
2005 with a Bachelors Degree in Agriculture, Master of Science (Soil Science-Soil Fertility) in
2011 from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. He is
currently enrolled as a PhD fellow at University of Bamako, Mali under the West Africa
Science Center for Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) program. He is
currently working with Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific
and Industrial Research in Ghana as a Soil Scientist with specialization in Soil Fertility and
Crop Modeling. His research areas mostly involve making fertilizer recommendation for crops,
mainly cereals and legumes, using models. Furthermore, he researches into the use of
rhizobium inoculants for improving legume yields and also produces inoculants. Other research
areas include development of integrated soil fertility management technologies for farmers in
Ghana. Most of his research is carried out in Northern region of Ghana.





Awudu Abubakar currently studying for Master of Science degree in Soil Science (Major in soil
physics/ hydrology) at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST),
Kumasi, Ghana. He obtained his first degree in Agriculture in 2011 in the same institution. His
current research is focuses on chemical transport and sorption.