New Waves July 2010

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

TWRI grant recipient studies the influence of land use in shrink-swell soils

Takele Dinka, a doctoral student­ in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M University, recently worked with his advising professor Dr. Cristine Morgan to evaluate the impact of land use on the hydrologic response of watersheds containing shrink-swell soils.

Dinka received a 2009-10 Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research grant. With the $5,000 grant, Dinka conducted a field-based investigation of the influence of soil properties and land uses on the shrink-swell dynamics of the soil type Vertisol. Final results of the study showed that maximum soil subsidence and the time of its occurrence varied with vegetation type.

“The result of this study provides the information necessary to understand watershed hydrology and to improve hydrology models for shrink-swell soils,” he said.

Dinka said the research will lead to improved simulation of water, solute and particulate movement in watersheds and to more sound estimates of the effect of land management practices on surface and groundwater quality and quantity.

He has presented the results of his research at several conferences and received a 3rd place award in oral presentation at the 46th Annual Soil Survey and Land Resource Workshop, held at Texas A&M. “This grant has helped me gain both professional and academic experiences,” Dinka said.

After Dinka completes his doctorate, he said he would like to be a faculty member or researcher. Dinka’s interest in soil and water management was influenced by the degraded agricultural lands that he saw as an undergraduate student in Ethiopia.

Dinka’s research was funded by TWRI through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as part of the National Institutes for Water Research annual research program. TWRI is the designated institute for water resources research in Texas.

For more information on Dinka’s research, visit the TWRI USGS Research Grants webpage at

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