Sediment and Agrochemical Interactions
In the last 50 years, the increase of global population has alarmingly been altering the use of agricultural land with an increase in chemicals applications such as mineral fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. This extensive application of agrochemicals has eventually caused excessive leaching into natural water bodies with macroscopic effects on sedimentary microbial communities. The microbial communities, in fact, play an important role in governing the flocculation dynamics of suspended sediment, hence, affecting their settling, sedimentation and resuspension.
This projects aims at investigating the effect of agrochemicals on microbial communities and the response of sediment dynamics against perturbations caused by increased availability of agrochemicals in natural surface waters. To capture the dynamics of suspended sediment, an innovative experimental facility was designed and built in the School of Civil Engineering, the University of Sydney. This facility allows full control of sediment and chemicals loadings, turbulence shear, and was equipped with an automated µPIV system to acquire micro photographs of suspended sediment. This project will ultimately provide a better understanding of the interactions between sediment, microbial communities and anthropogenically-sourced agrochemicals.