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  • Author or Editor: Nikolaos Ntoulas x
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Little is known about the accuracy of soil moisture dielectric sensors in coarse-textured root zones and green roof substrates. In the present study, the accuracy of two dielectric sensors of different technologies (frequency domain and time domain dielectric sensor) in measuring moisture content was investigated in six coarse-textured green roof substrates. Calibration equations were developed for both sensors, and the effect of electrical conductivity (EC) on substrate moisture content calculation was determined. It was found that for frequency domain sensor the relationship between dielectric permittivity square root ( ) and actual substrate moisture content (θ m) was strongly linear for all tested substrates. However, for each substrate a distinct specific calibration equation of was required. The correlation between substrate permittivity and EC was linear for frequency domain sensor for all moisture levels (0% to 35%). In the case of time domain sensor, each green roof substrate was also described from a different calibration curve between actual substrate moisture content and period of time that was recorded by the device. It was found that their relationship was quadratic for all substrates. In addition, time domain sensor output responded in a quadratic manner to increasing levels of EC. This response was found to interact with actual substrate moisture content as well. It was concluded that the most reliable results for moisture content determination of the coarse-textured green roof substrates were obtained by substrate-specific calibration curves for both dielectric sensors.

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Several locally available materials were tested to create an optimized growth substrate for arid and semiarid Mediterranean extensive green roofs. The study involved a four-step screening procedure. At the first step, 10 different materials were tested including pumice (Pum), crushed tiles grade 1–2 mm (T1–2), 2–4 mm (T2–4), 5–8 mm (T5–8), 5–16 mm (T5–16), and 4–22 mm (T4–22); crushed bricks of either 2–4 mm (B2–4) or 2–8 mm (B2–8); a thermally treated clay (TC); and zeolite (Zeo). All materials were tested for their particle size distribution, pH, and electrical conductivity (EC). The results were compared for compliance with existing guidelines for extensive green roof construction. From the first step, the most promising materials were shown to include Pum, Zeo, T5–8, T5–16, and TC, which were then used at the second stage to develop mixtures between them. Tests at the second stage included particle size distribution and moisture potential curves. Pumice mixed with TC provided the best compliance with existing guidelines in relation to particle size distribution, and it significantly increased moisture content compared with the mixes of Pum with T5–8 and T5–16. As a result, from the second screening step, the best performing substrate was Pum mixed with TC and Zeo. The third stage involved the selection of the most appropriate organic amendment of the growing substrate. Three composts having different composition and sphagnum peat were analyzed for their chemical and physical characteristics. The composts were a) garden waste compost (GWC), b) olive (Olea europaea L.) mill waste compost (OMWC), and c) grape (Vitis vinifera L.) marc compost (GMC). It was found that the peat-amended substrate retained increased moisture content compared with the compost-amended substrates. The fourth and final stage involved the evaluation of the environmental impact of the final mix with the four different organic amendments based on their first flush nitrate nitrogen (NO3 -N) leaching potential. It was found that GWC and OMWC exhibited increased NO3 -N leaching that initially reached 160 and 92 mg·L−1 of NO3 -N for OMWC and GWC, respectively. By contrast, peat and GMC exhibited minimal NO3 -N leaching that was slightly above the maximum contaminant level of 10 mg·L−1 of NO3 -N (17.3 and 14.6 mg·L−1 of NO3 N for peat and GMC, respectively). The latter was very brief and lasted only for the first 100 and 50 mL of effluent volume for peat and GMC, respectively.

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